Idea cut down to size

April 19, 2002

The THES helps perpetuate a highly ideological definition 01 aggression ("Rage and the human race", THES , April 12) by looking at only evolution- ary and genetic versus social conditioning accounts. The notion of social conditioning is rooted in Skinnerian psycholo- gy and discounts historical processes and social relations.

What you offer is not "big science", but "big old ideologi- cal formulations". Every time I saw Margaret Thatcher on television, I felt rage. This is not explained by my amygdala or conditioning but by my understanding of the world, the time and circumstances.

I work in one small corner of this domain: that concerned with the ways humans use mediated representations of the world to understand it.

The article claims that a 1994 review of television and violence studies showed a "sig- nificant positive correlation" between viewing violence and being aggressive. Yes, if you ignore the fact that many stud- ies were incompatible, many were slammed for methodolog- ical flaws while others never got published because they showed nothing.

Martin Barker
Professor of film and television studies
University of Aberystwyth

to read this article.

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments