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Study Claims Profanity Causes Aggression

| 17 Oct 2011 21:39
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Researchers at Brigham Young University claim that profanity in videogames and television causes aggressive behavior in kids.

A BYU study asking 223 young teenagers about their favorite videogames and television shows and how often they cursed found that kids who are exposed to profanity are more likely to use profanity themselves, which isn't terribly surprising. What is a bit of a surprise, however, is that they're also reportedly more likely "hit, kick and punch others, or engage in non-physical aggressive behavior like gossiping and spreading rumors about someone."

"Profanity is kind of like a stepping stone. You don't go to a movie, hear a bad word, and then go shoot somebody. But when youth both hear and then try profanity out for themselves it can start a downward slide toward more aggressive behavior," said BYU family professor and study Dr. Sarah Coyne, who refrains from swearing herself due to an "honor code" at the university that forbids the use of naughty language by both students at staff.

Ohio State University Professor Brad Bushman, who was not involved in the study but has taken part in previous media-critical research, said the BYU study demonstrates that "profanity is not harmless."

"Children exposed to profanity in the media think that such language is 'normal,' which may reduce their inhibitions about using profanity themselves," he said in a statement of his own.

But as usual, not everyone agrees with Coyne's conclusions. Psychology professor Dr. Timothy Jay of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts said the assumption that language can harm kids is without any basis and noted that previous research has demonstrated that words, including the bad ones, can actually have a beneficial effect.

"There is literature that shows the prosocial effects of media on children, the authors ignore these reports," he told Fox News. "The authors make no case for profanity being beneficial, as in humor elicitation, or social bonding, or as a coping mechanism, or as a relief from pain."

Source: CBS News

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