Crime and Television

If you find yourself worried about crime, could your fears be caused by what you see on TELEVISION, rather than on REALITY?


A new study has found that Americans’ fear of real-world violence is directly related to the amount of violence portrayed on broadcast television.


According to, The Annenberg Public Policy Center examined the amount of violence on TV from the 1970s through 2010, and then compared that to how people responded to Gallup polls about their fear of violence.


Despite the fact that crime rates in general have decreased over that time period, people’s fear of crime rose and fell in a pattern similar to rising and falling crime rates on TV shows!


It turns out that the number of violent sequences shown on broadcast TV each hour decreased significantly between 1972 and 1996. But since then, the number of violent incidents has been on the rise again…up to almost 4 per hour in prime time.


Each additional violent sequence per hour corresponded with a 1% increase in the number of people who said they feared walking alone at night in their own neighborhood.


Dan Romer with the Annenberg Center says “We now have stronger evidence that the fictional treatment of crime on TV may influence the public’s fears of crime,”


And this just in…watching sitcoms may make you more cynical about love.


Researchers at the University of Michigan found that students who watched sarcastic and cynical comedies such as How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory tended to have a much more pessimistic view of romance than those who didn’t.


The researchers say even if we aren’t aware of it, we internalize the messages we see on TV or in films.


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.