Media and Violence: An Analysis of Current Research

A Common Sense Research Brief
February 13, 2013

In the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that took the lives of 20 young children and six adults, the nation’s attention has turned once again to the role that violent media may or may not play in such horrible national tragedies.

As the debate continues about media’s impact, some argue that research has "irrefutably" (Bushman & Huesmann, 2012) shown a causal link between media violence and aggressive behavior, while others say studies have shown "no evidence" (Suellentrop, 2012) of a relationship between video games and violence.

In the context of such widely disparate views, it is the purpose of this brief to review the latest scientific research about violence in the media and its possible effects on aggressive behavior. The paper highlights where research is scarce, incomplete, or outdated; includes an assessment of the research findings; and offers some thoughts on promising new areas of study.