The Effects of a Laugh Track on Viewing Verbal Bullying in Television
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Ninety-three percent of adolescent television shows contain acts of aggression. It is thought that viewing aggressive media has the potential to increase aggressive thoughts and behaviors. The current study examined how the use of a laugh track acting as a reinforcer changed participants' attitudes toward a bully situation. In Experiments 1A and IB a total of 177 female participants watched and rated either 12 TV clips containing a laugh track or 12 YouTube clips containing no laugh track. Participants were then asked to watch a clip featuring a bullying scenario and indicate when they would intervene. It was hypothesized that the presence of a laugh track would encourage participants to rate TV clips as being funnier, less mean, and more self and peer acceptable than participants who viewed YouTube clips, and that participants in the TV condition would be more tolerant of bullying, as indicated by a longer intervention time. All hypotheses were supported except for both TV and YouTube were rated as equally mean, and participants in the TV condition of Experiment 1Bwere not more tolerant. Although there was no significant difference between the perceived meanness of TV and YouTube clips, all participants rated the clips as being more mean than funny. Also, in spite of TV clips being perceived as significantly funnier than YouTube clips, the TV clips were not rated high enough on a 4-point scale to be considered funny. In Experiment 2 a total of 76 female participants read and rated transcripts of the same clips in Experiments 1A and IB. It was hypothesized that funniness, meanness, self acceptability, and peer acceptability would be rated equally. All hypotheses in Experiment 2 were supported meaning that all participants perceived the written transcripts to be equally funny, equally mean, and equally self and peer acceptable.