Psychology Content Analysis
Violent Language and Phrases Used in the Media: A Content Analysis of a Newspaper Article Zowie George 08351856 Abstract Introduction Previous research suggests that there is a potential influence of violent media on youth violence. According to Levermore & Salisbury, (2009) their recent study found that there was a relationship between virtual aggression and actual aggression in youth exposed to various forms of violent media. There are a variety of ways to analyse texts or documents, from grounded theory to discourse analysis.
Wilkinson (2008) suggests that content analysis is a commonly used approach to analysing qualitative data. Content analysis involves physically organising and subdividing the data into categories, whilst the interpretive component involves determining what categories are meaningful in terms of the questions being asked (Breakwell et al. , 2006). The theory of social representations offers a model of social knowledge, its social construction, transformation and distribution, and describes the function of experience and knowledge in social practises (Flick, 1995) and was introduced by Moscovici (1976).
Social representations refer to shared beliefs and understandings between broad groups of people (Crisp & Turner 2010). The theory of social representations was adopted from Durkheim (1951), as he was the first to focus on the importance of collective representations embedded in our language, institutions and our customs (Flick, 1995). Moscovici (1973) has defined social representations as: system of values, ideas and practises with a twofold function: first to establish an order which will enable individuals to orientate themselves in their material and social world and to master it; and secondly to enable communication to take place among the members of a community by providing them with a code for social exchange and a code for naming and classifying unambiguously the various aspects of their world and their individual and group history (1973; xvii in Flick, 1995) Two concepts are seen as central in the process of social representation; anchoring and objectification.
According to Flick (1995) anchoring is to integrate new phenomena – objects, experiences – into existing worldviews and categories. Moscovici (1984, in Flick, 1995) described objectification as an imprecise idea or object being discovered, a concept converted into an image, which then becomes integrated within a pattern of figurative nucleus – a complex of images symbolizing a complex of ideas. Research of social representations has not only been about social knowledge but also, cultural objects like health and illness (Herzlich, 1973 in Flick, 1995) and politics.
These issues are usually formed from theories and then transformed into popular everyday knowledge, as Crisp & Turner (2010) suggests, through discussions between individuals, or the news, media or literature. According to Flick (1995) social representations are generated, changed and exchanged, and spread through social groups. Social influence should also be considered within the social representation theory, as people may alter their beliefs or attitudes about certain issues, because of the effect another individual or group has on these beliefs.
According to Crisp & Turner (2010) social influence is all about how our thoughts, feelings and behaviours change when in the presence of others. A classic example is from Asch (1951) where participants were asked which comparison line matched the original standard line, however when majority of people gave the incorrect answer, others would still say the same answer if even they thought it was the wrong answer and so they would conform to the majority’s viewpoint.
Social representations are often used by the media to persuade, encourage and evoke certain beliefs within a group, community and society, and influence everyday practises (Jodelet, 1991, in Flick, 1995). Social representations used in the media allow people to understand and gain information about important issues in society, including violence. Devereux (2007) suggests every day we are presented with a plethora of images and messages about the social world; living as we do in a media-saturated society. From these media messages, people make decisions, establish and encourage beliefs about their ocial world. According to Devereux (2007) it is within media content that the shaping and framing of our understanding and perceptions of the social world takes place. Most people gain information through the media and so their perception of certain issues are moulded by the way the information is communicated (Furedi, 2002). Media does have the ability to influence people’s attitudes about violent representations as Trend (2007) suggests that media violence convinces people that they live in a violent world and violence is required to make the world feel safer.
From the content analysis of my newspaper article, I established two categories; group behaviour and violence, from my research question; whether there is a strong presence of negative words and phrases, used by the writer, to describe violence in the article? After analysing my article and establishing my categories, I wanted to establish the social representations of violence used by the media in our society. After studying previous research about gang violence in the UK, I found that the media helps to influence violence through films, television, internet and video games.
As Gunter (et al. , 2003) suggests, a casual link exists between violence on television and viewer reaction, where governments worry about the role such a mass medium plays in promoting antisocial conduct. There are concerns that the media has the power to influence the public and in turn people’s behaviour as Trend (2007) suggests violent representations are so deeply ingrained in our culture and part of human nature so deeply that we can’t root it out.
The ultimate concern about television violence is founded on the view that it contributes toward social violence (Gunter et al. , 2003). However Trend (2007) argues that media violence simply reflects today’s society, as Furedi (2002) suggests, we live in a violent society. Method Holsti (1969:14, in Bryman, 2008) describes content analysis as, any technique for making inferences by objectively and systematically identifying specified characteristics of messages. Content analysis is used to determine the presence of certain words or phrases within a text or set of texts.
Bryman (2008) suggests how research has also been conducted on visual images, radio and television news and song lyrics. As the analysis technique is done systematically, the approach is done in a consistent manner in order to avoid personal bias from the researcher. This will result in anyone being able to repeat the analysis and come up with the same results. (See Fig. 1. 7 for advantages and disadvantages). For my own research analysis, I used content analysis to analyse a chosen newspaper article about gang violence in Britain.
The research question for my analysis was; Whether there is a strong presence of negative words and phrases, used by the writer, to describe violence in the article? I decided to use an article from The Independent as I wanted to use an article that had a variety of information and a strong content, as that would make it easier to analyse and would give a good amount of data to interpret. The research question is vital when using content analysis, as this will guide the selection of media content to be analysed and the coding schedule.
According to Bryman (2008) if the research questions are not clearly articulated, there is a risk that inappropriate media will be analysed or the coding schedule will miss out key dimensions. During the content analysis of my article, I counted the number of words that related to my research question, afterwards I was able to code the data into categories for me to analyse. Content analysis offers the prospect of different kinds of units of analysis being considered (Bryman, 2008). Certain coding units that could be used to analyse a piece of text include; words, phrases, themes and characters.
The two categories I established to be analysed are; group behaviour and violence. I came to these particular categories because of the use of certain words in the article that related to violence including; murder, bloody and shooting and for group behaviour; gangs, feral and tribal loyalty. Once I had my two categories I was able to count the number of words that fall into each category and present my results in a table. During the process of content analysis, I worked within a group in order to validate the content analysis of my chosen article.
Each group member analysed each others article to ensure the coding units related to the research question, so hopefully each group member would come up with the same results. Findings After completing the content analysis of my chosen article, the results support and answer my research question; whether there is a strong presence of negative words and phrases used by the writer, to describe violence in the article? The results of the analysis (See Fig. 1. 1) show that for the violence category there were 63 words, 3 phrases and 9 sentences which related to violent language.
In total 75 words and phrases were used in the article to describe violence. For the second category in my content analysis, group behaviour, there were 51 words, 10 phrases and 7 sentences that had a reference to a violent nature in the article, equalling to 68 words and phrases altogether. In total 143 words out of 975 words, for the whole article, related to and described violence, with the use of negative words (See Fig. 1. 2). Some of the negative words used in the article to describe violence include; criminal, virus, fatality and risk being victimised. See Fig. 1. 3, 1. 4 & 1. 5). Following the group analysis, in which we each analysed the other member’s newspaper article, I found there were several similarities; a majority of words and phrases that both I and my group member had found in the article and chosen categories, with several new words that I had not used in the first content analysis that I conducted. And some differences; in which some words I had used, my group member had not highlighted, which I later used in the my final content analysis. (See Fig. 1. 6).
For the first page of the article, the writer is describing the events of the riots, a recent set of disturbances committed by youths and gang members all over the UK and some of the violence that had taken place. Violent language is used frequently throughout the first page of the article such as; attacks on police, shot and burning. In addition, several other violent words and phrases were used in relation to group behaviour, for the first page of the article in which the writer describes how gangs were acting violently and some of the group dynamics in gangs.
These included words such as; form alliances, declare allegiance and competes for territory. The second page of the newspaper article is describing some of the first accounts of gangs and gang related behaviour in Britain. In addition recent reports about gun and knife crime is mentioned as well as some of the characteristics of gangs, with words including; feral groups of very angry young people and mask gangster-style. Discussion From the results of my content analysis into a newspaper article, the research question has been supported and there is links to support the theory that media has an influence on violent youth behaviour.
Escobar-Chaves & Anderson (2008) suggest researchers have found strong evidence that media contributes towards violence. In addition, Trend (2007) states that the consumption of violent media can be liked to crime and violence. Individuals learn aggressive responses in much the same manner as they learn other social behaviours, either by observation or through direct experience (Anderson & Bushman, 2002; Bandura, 1978, in Levermore & Salisbury, 2009).
If violent behaviour is something people learn, media might have a huge influence (Trend, 2007). According to Escobar-Chaves & Anderson (2008) youths are spending increasing amounts of time using electronic media, with an average youngster now spending one third of each day with some form of electronic media. This suggests adolescents may be influenced by the media, into learning aggressive behaviour, pick up any newspaper or turn on the TV and you will find either violent imagery or a story about violent media (Trend, 2007).
According to the US Senate Committee (1999, in Trend, 2007) a young person will witness 200,000 simulated violent acts and 16,000 dramatized murders by the age of 18. In addition, children are exposed to ever-increasing amounts of actual violence in their communities as well as virtual violence in the media (Hill, Levermore, Twaite, & Jones, 1996, in Levermore & Salisbury, 2009). This could have a negative effect on children as Gunter (et al. , 2003) suggests children may learn aggressive behaviour patterns from watching television.
This assertion of social learning theorists was demonstrated in Bandura, Ross, and Ross’s (1961; 1963) famous Bobo doll experiments where children imitated aggression toward dolls just after they had witnessed an adult being aggressive toward the dolls, either in person or on film (Hayes, Rincover, ; Volosin, 1980, in Levermore ; Salisbury, 2009). Children are constantly limited to watching television than doing any other form of social interaction, leading the mass media to dominate their socialization (Gunter et al. 2003). This may have a negative effect on children if they are frequently viewing violent scenes in their social surroundings; an increased likelihood of aggression being triggered by screen violence (Berkowitz, 1984, 1994: Berkowitz ; Rogers, 1986 in Gunter et al. , 2003). Gender is a factor of importance in violent representations showed in the media, as the biggest audience of media violence is adolescent boys, as young men are socialized to view violent media as an important part of gender identification (Trend, 2007).
The ability to tolerate violent imagery within the media can be regarded as a measure of a young man’s masculinity and strength between peers. The media image of men these days also tells them that they have to be tough in certain ways (Trend, 2007) which is where violent behaviour comes in, as the media violence shapes peoples thinking to behave a certain way and make them feel as if they should use force. However there have been studies trying to establish why there is so much youth violence in society, with some evidence to suggest that the media is not the only factor as to why youths act violently.
A study by Hood (2001) showed how violence in the media was found to have an impact on aggression learnt in the home, in which; violence in the family exerted profound impact on children, leading to indirect and direct aggression. Most psychologists will say that it is what is learned or acquired through experiences that cause people to become violent (Trend, 2007). Violent social representations can be found in all different forms of the media; from the internet, video games and television programmes; television is the source of most broadly shared images and messages in history (Gerbner et al. 1980) and violence on television can take many different forms (Gunter et al. , 2003). Even programmes such as the News can broadcast violent imagery to its audience, as according to Trend (2007) the news media serve up accounts of murder, gang warfare, workplace violence and killer moms, and is far more likely to broadcast stories about negative activities such as; crime and conflict, than a positive story. A common accusation is that television contains too much violence (Gunter et al. , 2003).
Other forms of media representing violence in society include computer games as Trend (2007) suggests; they are fast advancing to become the leading source of violent entertainment. Anderson (et al. , 2007) suggests that students spend inordinate amounts of time playing video games with violent themes and seems more interested in the violent images than in the game itself. The results of a recent survey by Gentile, Lynch, Linder ; Walsh (2004) show how boys played video games 13 hours per week and 5 hours a week for girls (Anderson et al. 2007). After watching violent social representations people will become accustomed to such images in the media, with some individuals wanting to see more violence in various media formations. Trend (2007) suggests the desire for violent representations is not a deviation from a social norm, it is the norm. Guttmann (1998, in Gunter et al. , 2003) suggests an attraction to violence in entertainment has a history that predates the modern mass media and can be traced back to the popularity of violent sporting spectacles in Greek and Roman times.
With a desire for violent representations, comes aggressive behaviour and violent acts towards society. By the late 1990’s a consensus around the notion that violence in the media must produce violence at home and in the streets, was solidified (Trend, 2007). According to Trend (2007) people commit violence simply because they’ve become aroused or excited, and violent scenes in TV or film heighten the viewer’s emotions and could relive tension or built up hostility. One explanation for the enjoyment of screen violence is that it is exciting and therefore arousing (Zillmann, 1978 in Gunter et al. 2003). Therefore representations of violence have remained popular (Trend, 2007). Conclusion To conclude, people can be influenced into having certain beliefs or attitudes about a variety of issues including youth violence, by other individuals and the mass media in society. Both can have an effect and cause people’s behaviour to change more violently. As violent representations are ingrained in our media environment, they need to be understood in order to protect our communities and so that youth violence in society can be controlled.
Otherwise, there may be people growing up with the belief that the world is a violent place, that violence is a good way to solve problems and that violent characters are people to be admired and emulated (Trend, 2007). My analysis has shown that perhaps too many violent representations are in our society and throughout the media, with people growing up wanting to act violently towards their community. If people are going to be fed violent imagery through different forms of media, then there will be a profound effect on their attitudes and therefore their behaviour will change towards a violent nature.
Media and the society have to accept some responsibility for a rise in violent behaviour in youths and adolescents, and will need to think of changing how the media represents violence in society and whether there should be violent images broadcasted to individuals at all. References Anderson, C. A. , Gentile, D. A. and Buckley, K. E. (eds. ) (2007) Violent video game effects on children and adolescents: theory, research and public policy. NY: Oxford University Press Inc. Barry, M. (2006) Youth offending in transition: the search for social recognition. NY: Routledge. Berryman, J. Ockleford, E, Howells, K, Hargreaves, D. and Wildbur, D. (2006) Psychology and you: an informal introduction. 3rd ed. Oxford: BPS, Blackwell Publishing. Breakwell, G. M. , Hammond, S. , Fife-Schaw, C. and Smith, J. A. (eds. ) (2006) Research methods in psychology. 3rd. ed. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Bryman, A. (2008) Social research methods. 3rd. , ed. NY: Oxford University Press Inc. Crisp, R. J. and Turner, R. N. (2010) Essential social psychology. 2nd. ed. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Devereux, E. (2003) Understanding the media. 2nd. ed. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Doyle, A. 2003) Arresting images: crime and policing in front of the television camera. Toronto: University of Toronto Press Incorporated. Escobar-Chaves, S. L. and Anderson, C. A. (2008) Media and risky behaviours. Journal of the future of children, 18. 1 pp. 147-180. Field, A. and Hole, G. (2003) How to design and report experiments. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Flick, U. (1995) ‘Social Representations’ in Smith, A. J. , Harre, R. and Langenhove, L. V. (eds. ) Rethinking psychology. London: SAGE Publications Ltd, pp. 70-96. Furedi, F. (2002) Culture of fear: risk taking and the morality of low expectation.
NY: Continuum. Gerbner, G. , Gross, L. , Morgan, M. , Signorelli, N. and Shanahan, J. (1980) ‘Growing up with Television: Cultivation Processes’ in Bryant, J. and Zillmann, D. (2008) Media effects advances in theory and research. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. Gunter, B. , Harrison, J. and Wykes, M. (eds. ) (2003) Violence on television: distribution, form, context and themes. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. Levermore, M. A. and Salisbury, G. L. (2009) The relationship between virtual and actual aggression: youth exposure to violent media. The forensic examiner, 18. 2 pp. 2-42. McGhee, P. (2001) Thinking psychologically. NY: Palgrave, Macmillan. Trend, D. (2007) The myth of media violence: a critical introduction. USA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Wilkinson, S. (2008) ‘Focus groups’ in Smith, J. A. (ed. ) Qualitative psychology: a practical guide to research methods. 2nd. ed. London: SAGE Publications Ltd, pp. 197-201. Appendix Fig. 1. 1 Categories| Frequency| Violence| | Words | 63| Phrases| 3| Sentences| 9| Total| 75| | | Group Behaviour| | Words| 51| Phrases| 10| Sentences| 7| Total| 68| | | Overall Total| 143| Fig. 1. 2 Coding Unit| Frequency| | Words| 114| Phrases| 13| Sentences| 16| Characters| 6| Themes| 4| | | Fig. 1. 3 Fig. 1. 4 Fig. 1. 5 Fig. 1. 6 Group Analysis of Article| Zowie Zoya | Gangs| x| x| Ghettoes| x| | Rioters| x| | Fatality| x| x| Riots| x| x| Dying| x| x| Shot| x| x| Violence at heart of the riots| x| x| Incident| x| | Gang culture| x| x| Anarchy| x| x| Group of friends| | x| Another group| | x| Altercation| x| | Car chase| x| | Shooting| x| x| Rivalry| x| x| London’s gang culture| x| x| Alliances| x| | Criminal| x| | Groupings| | x| Looting| x| x| Hatred of the police| x| x|
Gangs gathered| x| x| Burning| x| x| Attacks on police| x| | Click (clique)| x| | Turned on feds| x| | F**k| | x| Click on click beef| x| | Man got duppied (killed)| x| x| Kill some of the fed man| x| x| Burning shops and buses| x| x| Dashing rocks| x| x| Bloody| x| x| Perverse| x| | Britain’s gang culture| x| x| Code of the streets| x| | Ruthlessly enforced| x| x| Rules| x| | Chaotic| x| x| British street gangs| x| x| Spread| x| | Virus| x| | Crime| x| | London has 257 street gangs| x| x| Gang members| x| x| Tackling gangs| x| x| Youth violence| x| x| Gangsterism| x| x|
More young people are being drawn into a minor affiliation even those who do not take part in crime| x| x| Allegiance| x| | Risk being victimised| x| x| Youths| x| | Form alliances| x| x| The NPK gang| x| | Competes for territory| x| x| Targets| x| x| Terrified of| x| | Dispute| | | Territorial| x| x| Turf war| x| x| Declare allegiance| x| | Johnson gang| x| | Murder| x| x| Street gang culture| x| x| Need for protection| x| | Stabbed to death| x| x| Mask gangster-style| x| | Aiming a shotgun| x| x| Gang activity| x| x| Represent whole neighbourhoods| x| x| Enemy| x| x| Hardened| | x| Gangsters| x| x|
Disturbances| | x| Worst rioting| x| x| Highest gang activity| x| x| Rising gang violence| x| x| Rival crews| x| x| Targeted| x| x| Dangers| x| x| Feral groups of very angry young people| x| x| Tribal loyalty| x| x| Violence and drugs is a way of life| x| x| Fig. 1. 7 Content analysis has several advantages, such as it being a very flexible approach to analysing texts, as the technique can be applied to a variety of different media (Bryman, 2008). Wilkinson (2008) suggests an advantage of content analysis is that, it also allows for the conversion of qualitative data into a quantitative form.
Content analysis also allows information to be generated about social groups (Bryman, 2008). Wilkinson (2008) suggests that a main disadvantage of using this technique is that a great deal of detail is lost. Other issues include; the analysis is reliant on one researcher, where as it is advisable to involve two or more people in the coding of the texts, so that the reliability of the analysis can be systematically assessed (Breakwell et al. , 2006) and most often the context of the text is ignored. In addition content analysis can be extremely time consuming.