Efficacy of an Intervention to Reduce the Use of Media Violence and Aggression: An Experimental Evaluation with Adolescents in Germany
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Several longitudinal studies and meta-analytic reviews have demonstrated that exposure to violent media is linked to aggression over time. However, evidence on effective interventions to reduce the use of violent media and promote critical viewing skills is limited. The current study examined the efficacy of an intervention designed to reduce the use of media violence and aggression in adolescence, covering a total period of about 12 months. A sample of 683 7th and 8th graders in Germany (50.1% girls) were assigned to two conditions: a 5-week intervention and a no-intervention control group. Measures of exposure to media violence and aggressive behavior were obtained about 3 months prior to the intervention (T1) and about 7 months post-intervention (T2). The intervention group showed a significantly larger decrease in the use of violent media from T1 to T2 than the control group. Participants in the intervention group also scored significantly lower on self-reported aggressive behavior (physical aggression and relational aggression) at T2 than those in the control group, but the effect was limited to those with high levels of initial aggression. This effect was mediated by an intervention-induced decrease in the normative acceptance of aggression. No gender differences in program efficacy were found. The results show that a 5-week school-based intervention can produce changes in the use of media violence, aggressive norms, and behaviors sustained over several months.
KeywordsMedia violence Intervention Experimental evaluation Longitudinal study
The research reported in this paper was supported by a grant from the German Research Foundation (Kr 972/9-1). The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of Anja Berger, Juliane Felber, Patricia Baumert, Mareike Büttner, Inken Hukemann, Pascal Jacob, Julia Kleinwächter, Songül Schira, Grzegorz Szarowski, and Jessica Wenzlaff.
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