A 1982 report from the California Commission on Crime Control and Violence Prevention indicates that 66 percent of Americans perceived a relationship between televised violence and "real world" violence (101). A ban on televising violent programs until 10:00 p.m. was endorsed by 67 percent of the public (101). Although a majority of Americans in 1982 wanted to limit video violence, the scientific debate over the causal relationship between violent crime and television viewing continues into the 1990s.
Many of the studies on the link between television violence and aggressive tendencies have been flawed by design, thus making the data obtained subject to attack. The television industry has taken a defensive stance against most endeavors to link societal violence to TV viewing because violent shows have traditionally attracted viewers. The industry has stayed in the forefront of the issue by denying the connection between its programming and crimes of aggression, mostly on grounds that a direct cause and effect relationship cannot be assumed. Here, we return to the fact that many studies are correlational ("TV viewing accompanies aggressive behavior") but fail to demonstrate a causal relationship ("TV viewing causes aggression"). Because of the infinite number of variables at work in the social environment, a direct cause and effect relationship between TV violence and aggression is difficult to prove.
Those not willing to concede a causal relationship between violence watched and violence enacted have maintained that the causes of crime and violence are so deeply rooted in the world at large that it is impossible to pinpoint TV as a primary factor in the promotion of violence. Additionally, many researchers are not clear to what extent findings of experiments in laboratories are generalizable to actual experience.
the Surgeon General to publish five volumes of research documents
at a cost of more than $1.8 million ...