Harsh methods used in law enforcement, rapid increase in gun violence, and even the tendency to pull out a smartphone and hit the record button in extreme situations all make it easy to infer that modern society has grown to a point in which empathy has become a thing of the past. Thanks to such great technological advancements over the years, the fact of the matter is that violence can be accessed much more easily by just about anyone now. This ease in accessibility to graphic content has raised many to believe the current media is the cause of a phenomenon referred to as desensitization.
The idea behind desensitization is that exposure to violence in multiple forms can cause a person to become less likely to help those in need and more likely to lack empathy for those who are injured in violent situations. Desensitization can be defined as a decrease or lack of an emotional response over time after repeated exposure to negative stimuli. What this means is that prolonged exposure to scenes of brutality lowers our inhibitions to violence, thus we become “comfortably numb” to what is violent (Fanti et al, 179). Desensitization can be split into two different categories. These two domains can be categorized by emotion and cognition. According to Dr. Kostas Fanti, a psychologist and professor at the University of Cyprus, emotional desensitization is identified when a person reports a lower perception of the physical or emotional status of another. To best exemplify the emotional side of desensitization, one could look towards spectators of a public fight. These people can be considered desensitized because rather than showing empathy and stepping in to stop the fight, onlo...
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...ion between aggression and the level of enjoyment to scenes of violence. What this means is that the aggressive individuals in the sample seemed to enjoy the violent clips more than the less aggressive members in the sample. These individuals not only enjoyed the violent clips more, but they also expressed less initial sympathy to the victims in the clips. It is important to note however that by the end of the experiment, each of the students had been desensitized to media violence regardless of aggression (Fanti et al, 185).
While the aforementioned studies used more speculative means of testing their hypothesis using either questionnaires or recording brain activity, Brad J. Bushman and Craig Anderson, two distinguished professors with Ph.D.’s in Psychology, had a more practical approach to testing their hypothesis that exposure to violent media.
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