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The media plays a very powerful and influential role in the lives of youths anywhere in the world and it is sometimes referred to as the 'third parent‘. Over sixty years of study has provided evidence that exposure to violent media leads to an increase in violence and aggression. This is a study on exposure to film violence and its implication for moral development. Morality represent a key human apparatus which influences an individual‘s perception and acceptance of what is right or wrong. Morality underpins the exhibited violent behaviour consequent upon exposure to violent Tv/Film content. Morality is shaped by many factors and the media like Tv/Film is a key factor particularly in the twenty first century. Youths do not understand the influence of violent media content on their moral development because to them it is just a medium for entertainment. This study examines the potential effect of exposure to violent films. This study utilizes the qualitative approach to collect information from youths, media practitioner/producer, representative of Nigeria Film and Video censor Board (N.F.V.C.B.) and non-government organization. It was gathered from the study that excessive viewing of violent films by youths has the potential to influence youths to accept violence as an acceptable way of resolving conflict especially when violence is depicted to be justified in such films. Also the depiction of sexual violence in films may register in the subconscious of youths and may lead to attempt to replicate such acts in real life. The study also gathered that youths are still in active development stage as such excessive viewing of violent films may pervert their moral development. However, in seeking to contribute to ways of tackling this potential effects of violent films on youths, this study recommended that youth should be educated to avoid watching films with graphic violence and explicit sexual content. Parents should be aware of the potential effect of violent films on their children. Government agencies should curb the influx of pirated Hollywood films and sensitize youths and parents on the effect of violent films on people. This has become urgent because youths are the future of our nation and their moral development must be nurtured to produce leaders and parents for a morally upright society.




Title page        -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           i


1.1       Background to the Study       -           -           -           -           -           -           -1

1.2       Statement of the Research Problem - -           -           -           -           -           16

1.3       Aim and Objectives of the Study-      -           -           -           -           -           -17

1.4       Research Questions     -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -17

1.5     Significance of the Study         -           -           -           -           -           -           -17

1.6       Scope of Study           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -18  


2.0      Introduction     -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           20

2.1      Conceptualizing Violence        -           -           -           -           -           -           20

2.2      How Film Violence Affects youths     -           -           -           -           -           24

2.3      The Attraction of Violence in Films -      -          -          -          -      -              28

2.4      Representation and Perception in Films   -      -     --     - -     - -    --         -      30

2.5      Media Violence Cited as ‗Critical Risk Factor‘ for Children Aggression-     35

2.6      The Term ―Violence‖ in Television Studies- -            -           -           -           37

2.7      Television and Filmic Violence and the Emotional Impact on youths -          40

2.8      The Glamorization of Film and TV Violence -            -           -           -           -41

2.9    Justification of Violence in Films -       -          -           -          -           ---    -----42

2.10    Risk Factors for Violence and Aggression among Youths      -        -   -      -- 43

2.11    Media Outlets that Portray Violence    -             -                 -        -        --      46

2.12     The Concept of Morality-       -           -           -           -           -           -     -     48

2.13     History of Hollywood -    -             -                 -             -        -       -       --   51

2.14     Theoretical Framework-          -           -           -           -           -           -       - - 54


3.1       Introduction    -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -  62

3.2     Research Design-                      -           -           -           -           -           -           -   62

3.3      The Study Population  -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -63

3.4       Instruments of Data Collection          -           -           -           -           -           -   64

3.6       Method of Data Collection- -             -           -           -           -           - -         -   67


4.0        Introduction       -             -               -                     -                    -               -     69

4.1       Synopsis of the Film ―The Hostel‖    -          -           -           -            -      -    -  69

4.2       Synopsis of the Film ―Last house on the Left‖ --     ---        -          -          --71

4.3         Acts of Violence Portrayed in the Film ―The Hostel‖-        -        -       -      -  72

4.4         Acts of Violence Portrayed in the Film ―Last House on the Left‖ -    -       -   80

4.5       Implication of the Films for Youths Moral Development      -           -           -    86 


5.0       Introduction    -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -     111

5.1Summary - -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -       111

5.2The Study Major Findings-           -              -            -             -            -        - 112

5.3       Suggestions     -           -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -      112 5.4     Conclusion             -           -           -           --          -           -           -           -           -     115

References      -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -            -     117

Appendix        -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -           -            - 128



1.1       Background to the Study

There are several factors that shape up an individual‘s character and disposition to life; these factors include family traits, culture, peer group, media and environment amongst others. Consequently, the convergence of these myriad of factors could impact positively or negatively on an individual. The media as a vehicle of entertainment, education and information plays a very vital role in the life of a youth due to its audio-visual nature. In fact it is sometimes referred to as the third parent. In the same vein, the media include TV, film, music, radio, video games as well as the internet and its accompanying gadgets. However, next to music, films are considered to be popular amongst youths.

Freeman, (1998) posits that, film is the transformation of visual and auditory possibilities into a reliable and intelligible totality resulting from the imaginary element of the imagination. In other words, films use our knowledge of how the world works as the basis for the structure of its representation and therefore we see film sequence as mimetic representation which is illusory and symbolic. Viewers tend to identify with the human traits, physical abilities, spoken words and emotion of characters in films. Youths are the major consumers of films; the perception of what is real and unreal is not as acute as an adult because they are still in their formative years. This implies that aggressive adults learn their behaviour as youths.

Youths represent able bodied yet inexperienced segment of society. As the saying goes, youths have the brawn, but not the brain. Within the restless human species, youths are particularly agitated and excitable group on the path to maturity. They have to experience social life, develop the inherent individual faculties and discover the limits of ability. The word youth has been defined variously by different scholars and organizations. According to Zillman (1991:27), youth refers to a period between adolescence and adulthood in a postmodern era. He emphasizes that it is a new stage of life which millions of young Nigerians enter today. The United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF (1972) sees those between the age of 15 and 25 years as youth, but Johnson in Fenigsten (1979) insists that youth cuts across age, pointing to culture as what really matters. According to him any one who feels youthful, and exhibit qualities such as spontaneity, impulsiveness, energy, etc is a youth.

This study however focuses on films as a potential risk factor in influencing and stimulating violence and aggression particularly amongst youths. Youths who fall within the age range of 15 to 25 usually constitute the demography in Nigerian tertiary institutions.

Tertiary institutions in Nigeria are expected to play a major role in the countries human resource development to shape youths to become responsible members of the society and to serve as vibrant centers of productive research and academic excellence. However, violence has become a serious bane among tertiary institutions in Nigeria, and intensely so in the last two decades. The tertiary institutions are the major points where the bulk of adolescence are students. Authoritative source from a study conducted by (Iheoma, 2008) confirmed that an average total of 23,650 Nigerian undergraduates were indicted for violence related offences and were either suspended or rusticated from the system between 2001 and 2008.

Iheoma (2008) further asserts that Nigerian higher institutions of learning have become ―killing fields‖ as hardened criminals going under the umbrella of cultist continue to wreak havoc in different parts of the country especially within the educational institutions. For example in the University of Benin, a rival cult member was beheaded, his head was then spiked on a pole and paraded around a street (The Nation Newspaper, 2005).In 2002, rival cult boys exchanged gun fire in the University of Ilorin leading to the death of three innocent students. Also in off-campus apartment in the Abia State University, a female student was brutally gang raped and the dastardly act was filmed with a mobile phone and then uploaded on the internet.

Reports of these kinds of deviant and violent acts are recorded yearly in Nigerian tertiary institutions across the country, the bulk of such criminal offenses are usually unreported because such deviant behaviour  are usually exhibited in off-campus residents. Due to the inability of Nigerian higher institutions to meet the accommodation requirements for the ever growing number of students admitted yearly, private individuals have come in to fill this gap, by providing off-campus accommodation. Individuals now build off-campus residents designed for students, these residents are often located around the institutions. Students now have the luxury of living off-campus with virtually no restriction for what they can or cannot do. Students now live with all the comfort of modern life which include TV/video, laptops with internet connectivity, satellite connections and even air-conditioned apartments. In such environment where individuals from different backgrounds, and world view meet, influences take place with positive or negative consequences. Such environment provides the opportunity for youths to express and discover themselves as individuals. The off campus environment creates a perfect ground for the convergence of so many factors that can potentially influence or stimulate an individual.

This is not to imply that youth deviant behaviours are only seen amongst students in tertiary institutions. In 2011, young boys from wealthy homes began to engage in car racing on the street of Abuja. The fun is to see who can race faster and perform jaw dropping stunts. This is an extreme and very dangerous sport both to the drivers and the spectators. A lot of Hollywood films have become famous for portraying such extreme sports. The researcher is not implying that such acts are a direct copycat from films such as ―The fast and the furious‖, however it could be argued that it may provide influence and stimulus for youths who expose themselves to such films.

It is pertinent to note that this study is not conclusively saying such acts of violence enumerated above are caused by watching violent films, because factors such as, early initiations to violence and delinquency, substance abuse, negative peer group influence, violent and unhealthy environment among other factors are potential factors that constitute agents of socialization. Although violent acts such as enumerated above represent a constellation of events or factors which converge to influence an individual and one of such factors is films.

It is widely accepted that what people see or listen to on the media has effect on their behaviour in the real world. For example the multibillion dollar advertising industry flourishes on the assumption that showing people media advertisement will make them likely to buy the advertised products. Airlines train prospective pilots on flight simulators to teach them virtual flying skills before allowing them to fly a real plane. Also it is believed that limiting sexually stimulating or explicit materials from being shown to youngsters reflect the notion that such media contents adversely affect the young people‘s development. Watching violent movies does not normally lead people to assault person when they leave the cinema, nor is it true yet that avid players of highly violent video games often end up as criminal. Just as not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer and not everyone who gets lung cancer is a smoker. Similarly not everyone who watches violent media becomes aggressive and not everyone who is aggressive watches violent media contents. Indeed smoking is not the only factor that can cause lung cancer, but it is an important factor (Green 1971).

The foregoing examples show that media contents of different sorts are accepted to have an impact on how people feel, think and act in real life. However, there seems to be more reluctance to accept the conclusion that depictions of violence on television or film have a similar capacity to influence people‘s behaviour in the real world, in particular their readiness to engage in aggressive behaviour. Most of the things youths see or hear in the media early in their lives affect them in some way.  Positive parenting role models indicate that in the best interest of our youths, we should limit their exposure to violent acts. It is assumed that youths are innocent and vulnerable at their age. They tend to learn by what example they see other people do. Media violence may be seen as falling into three main categories: the learning of aggression: the increased arousal effect: desensitization for moral issues. Furthermore, youth may copy acts of aggression, as seen through the media. It may also elicit aggressive behavior by increasing the level of arousal in a viewer and that excessive exposure to violence decreases emulation of such violence (Burtterworth, 1999). 

Many senseless‘ violent acts have been committed all over the country, these acts of violence are committed everyday by youths in secondary schools but much more in tertiary institutions. Psychologists and Scientists have been trying to figure out what is causing these violent acts among our youths and how to stop it. They have been researching television and film violence and how it affects our youth‘s behaviour for many years and now know that the more violence a youth watches the more violent that youth may react.

Similarly, watching violent media is not the only factor that can influence and prime a youth to be aggressive but it is an important factor. People, particularly youths, expose themselves to violent films primarily for entertainment. There is no doubt that violence in films has entertainment value. According to Berkowitz (1993), he posits that it is a sensational and powerful aspect of the contemporary entertainment spectacle. Violent scenes in films undoubtedly heighten the viewer‘s emotions. He continues to explain that film makers are very much aware of this fact and thus use it as a technique for holding the audience attention.

Violence and sex sells particularly for youths who are attracted to this seemingly taboo depictions of life (Simon, 1998).However the researcher is aware that what may constitute as violence and taboo depictions to a Nigerian audience may not be so for an American audience. This is because what is socially and morally acceptable in one culture or society may not be acceptable in another. What is not contestable is that, violence is not culture-bound and can be learnt more importantly, morality which underpins the exhibited violent acts in the first place is a universal concept.

It is not an exaggeration to say that violence in Hollywood films has become a norm and in most cases it is preferable for entertainment as opposed to non-violent films or comedy. Hollywood films are very popular amongst youths all around the world and sixty percent of Hollywood films contains some form of violence, (Ihioma 2008).Although Nigerian films are also popular among Nigerian youths, Hollywood films are still much more popular, especially among urban dwellers like youths in tertiary institutions perhaps as a result of the glamour and the quality of acting, stories, cinematic effects and ―real‖ actions it portrays.

Most youths in Nigerian tertiary institutions can list names of Hollywood actors they admire i.e., Jason Statham, Bruce Wills, Denzel Washington, Jet Lee. Angelina Jolie, to mention a few, all of whom are good looking and charismatic and often depicted as action figures. Youths around the world idolize these actors and consider them as role models. This is in line with one of the assumptions of the social cognitive theory, a core media effect theory upon which this study is anchored, which states that youths are more likely to be influenced by models they admire especially when the actions portrayed by the model is rewarded or goes with no consequences, which is always the case in Hollywood films.

According to Mgbejume (1989), the early films shown to African audience before locally made films were available were those of Europe and United States. These films were seen by the colonial government as a benevolent gesture of tutelage to colonial people. He further noted that those critical of western films in Africa pointed out that early films from Europe and America did not portray people earning a living through decent means rather these films depict people earning their living through the use of the gun either as war mercenaries, paid assassins or just robbers. Some felt such films were having an antisocial effect on African audience and screen crimes and violence began to be transferred into real life by youths who may not be able to distinguish between ―reel world! and the ―real world!. The level of violence in movies and its acceptability has been debated for decades. It is no closer to being resolved now than when it first began but one fact is certain violent depiction in films is on the increase, partly because violence speaks a universal language.

Indeed, films are very influential medium, its content add to the reservoir of characters of its viewers especially youths, who are highly susceptible to the high influence of films (Prinz, 2005 ).It is also an accepted fact that the media plays a powerful role in the formation of values, morals and social skills in youths. The portrayal of violence in films and its glorification and glamorization may constitute a risk factor for youths who expose themselves to such depictions. What is more worrisome is that the hero or protagonist in violent Hollywood films is often portrayed to have triumphed through the use of violence. This is the classic scenario in Hollywood films which often portray the so called ―justified‖ violence: that is violence motivated by revenge, need for justice or a hero verses villain scenario. Such films ―justify‖ the use of violence as a means of settling conflict. What is the intent and the subliminal message being sent to people? This kind of violent portrayal in films may influence a youth to accept or believe that the use of violence in conflict situations is morally acceptable. Youths who expose themselves to such films may be stimulated to resort to violence as a means to an end. Youths identify with hero‘s in films which is very important in film studies and youths are very impressionable, what they see and hear tend to form an important part of them and they may be stimulated to act in the ways that the film hero‘s do when they are faced with similar situations.

Violence is a major concern over the world today. The twentieth century has been the most violent in human history so far, it has been called the age of violence (Hobsbawn, 1980).Violent acts in human societies are recognized to be associated with a number of factors which are broadly psychological (emotional) domestic and cultural. Modern society is exposed to a massive dose of media violence and there have been several studies on the effects of violence portrayed by media. Broadly speaking such media include TV/film, music/radio, video games, the new media, the internet and its accompanying gadgets. The question has always been what effect if any does violent film have on people?  

Violence by definition or manifestation can be difficult to define. However the overriding assumption is that violence is typically assumed to be motivated by hostility and the willful intent to cause harm, it is legally, socially, morally deviant human behavior. Typically, the phenomenon of violence as a hostile act emphasizes that harm, degradation, humiliation or injury to the target is the primary goal of the aggressor. (Berkowitz 1979).Violence is highly ambivalent in the ways it is socially sanctioned, legitimized and institutionalized as well as how it is culturally transmitted and experienced. Therefore no one single definition can encapsulate the full gamut and manifestation of violence as a phenomenon. However a theoretical framework will be provided to specially account for the conceptualization of violence. It is important to note that not all violent acts can be seen as there are other salient acts of violence which are equally harmful to the victim.

Violence and sex sell and the impact on viewers who expose themselves to such acts may either be psychological, physical or emotional. The action hero is often depicted as an easygoing, good-looking family man who has to resort to violence because of some wrong done to him. So viewers sympathize with him and will often cheer him on as he metes out violent ―justice‖ to his enemies. Violence is very attractive in films, conflicts are often built around violence, and it is a very effective mechanism used to sell films but the subliminal and subterranean impact on youths is strong. Youths are drawn into these films when the violent acts seem surreal and the lack of consequences makes it attractive. This is the danger that this study exposes.

From the foregoing, the level of violence portrayed in films has raised a lot of concerns and questions among sociologists, politicians, parents, teachers and everyone concerned. Film is a very important medium of getting information, entertainment as well as understanding the world and this has a great importance to the overall socio-moral development of youths because it can shape their norms, values, behavior, cognitive development as well as moral inclinations. Although violence in films is believed to have its benefit, theorist who argue along this line opine that violence in films purge viewers and allows them an avenue to release pent up anger thereby making less likely to imitate the violent actions portrayed.

This study is a reading of selected violent Hollywood films, to identify acts of violence and to investigate the potential implications for youth‘s moral development. The researcher did a reading of selected Hollywood films and observed the violent acts imbedded in the films and its potential implications for youths moral development were also sampled. However the study will not be complete if the views and opinion of youths are not sampled. As well, the views of other experts on the perception of violent in films and its implications for youths moral development. As earlier stated the bulk of youths in Nigeria are often found in tertiary institutions around the country, therefore this study picked interest in one Nigerian higher institution.


The Federal Polytechnic, Bida

The Federal Polytechnic Bida was established in 1975 and it is located along Bida Doko road. The institution is made up of four schools, which include; the School of Engineering, School of Business and Administrative Management, School of Environmental Sciences and the School of Environmental Studies. The School has a population of 8,357.The population comprises the morning and the evening students. The institution like most institution in Nigeria is unable to provide accommodation for the ever increasing number of students, this short fall of accommodation on campus has created opportunity for private individual to build off-campus residence that carter especially for students.

According to information provided by the Chief Security Officer (CSO), the off campus residents are 73 in number. One off-campus resident can comprise between 20 self-contained rooms to as higher as 100 rooms. This unique environment is able to cater for everything the student needs. Business that cater for anything students need are set up by individuals, ranging from pharmacists, chemists, a markets, saloons, boutiques, photo studious, restaurants, hotels, beer parlors as well as football show centers. Football show rooms air life matches which are a big attraction to students particularly the boys. It is pertinent to note that when there are no live matches, the football houses show Nollywood or Hollywood films, and the Hollywood films are often action films. Students who watch these films may not understand the conversations and the story line but they are attracted to the films because of the violence and sexually explicit contents they depict. However it is important to note that students who live in this off-campus residents do so with modern facilities like TV/video and stereo recorders and may view anything they want right in the comfort of their rooms.

The 21st century has changed the way people gain information about the world, including information about how violent the world is. The media landscape is ever-changing with new technologies and gadgets resulting in greater interactions in smaller graphically superior and computationally more powerful devices. These new technologies are tremendous resources for learning and knowledge acquisition at a rate unparalleled in the past. These new technologies in combination with an internet connection give youths a new window into the world, a new way of viewing the world as well as more diverse forms of visually stimulating contents than ever before (Donnerstein 2011).Access to the media and its content has many benefits but it also carries risks. Youth can now download, view, play and listen to sexually stimulating and violent materials anytime of the day from the comfort and privacy of their rooms with little or no adult supervision. Technology and the media have allowed opportunities for viewing violent and antisocial contents which were once relegated to more public spaces (such as the neighbourhood, movie theatre etc) have become increasingly private. 

Freedman (1984) posit that: the recent increase in crimes committed by younger children around the world has put a lot of pressure on scientists to find answers to the future of the world. It also has put pressure on government to pass new laws to protect our youths from violent materials. Many of the researches conducted, point at film violence as the primary influence in our youth‘s aggressive behaviour. Unfortunately, violence is one of the most popular forms of entertainment and over sixty percent of Hollywood films contain some form of violence.

The fact is that the perception of what is real and unreal for youths is not as acute as an older adult, meaning that, aggressive adults learned their behaviour as youths and the more violence children watch the better the chances are for them to be violent when they are adults. Scientists have been looking at the kinds of films youths watch and have come up with some shocking results. Research conducted has shown that the behaviors of hostile youths were influenced by the films they watched, especially if the youngsters were heavy watchers of violent films, (Huesmann and Eron, 1998).

Hearold (1986) who studied the effects of media violence on 875 youngsters found that youth‘s behaviour was influenced by TV/films, especially if the youngsters were heavy viewers of violent materials. Television violence, according to the researchers, provided a script for the youths to act out aggressive behavior in relationships with others. These youths were also likely to perform poorly in school and often unpopular with their peers. Even though aggression was found in youths who watched violent films, realistically it is not the only factor related to youth violent behavior, but studies have shown that it is a major factor because it affects individuals from a very early age. (Lancet 2008) 

In a related study conducted in London, 1,565 teenage boys were studied for behavioral effects of viewing violent TV/films programs, many of which were imported from the United States. The study revealed that those who were heavy viewers of violent contents before adolescence committed 49 percent higher rate of serious acts of violence than did youths who had viewed below average quantities of violence. The final report was ―very strongly supportive of the hypothesis that high exposure to television increases the degree to which boys engage in serious violence‖ (Houesman and Erron 1986). 

Five types of films were most powerful in triggering violent behaviour in the boys in the London study: 

        i.            Films in which violence is demonstrated in close personal relationships.

      ii.            Films where violence was not necessary to the plot but was just added for its own sake.

    iii.            Fictional violence of a very realistic kind.

    iv.            Hollywood style of ―justified‖ violence in retaliation.

      v.            Films that present violence as being for a good cause. 

Hicks (1968) analyzed crime data in areas of the world with and without television and made comparisons in areas before and after the introduction of TV. His studies revealed that homicide rates doubled in ten to fifteen years after TV was introduced for the first time into specified areas of the United States and Canada. Since the mid-1970s researchers have broadened their attention from behavioural effects to cognitive effects of violence viewing.

Substantial evidence has been accumulated that exposure to violent programs may affect a youths feelings and thoughts. In the long term, affect their cognitive response which may not only result in increased aggressive behavior, but may also be exhibited in more subtle forms of behavior than aggression.‖ Researchers have also found that exposure to violence may decrease normal sensitivity to aggression. High viewers of televised violence were less responsive in subsequent exposure to violence (Hauesman and Erron, 1986).  

Film and entertainment industry and its critics have argued that these media outlets merely reflect the level of violence in the society. A film expert from Virginia Tech Institution in the United States, Stephen Prince claims that violence was first introduced in movies to actually deter real life violence (Sallyharns undated).He further claimed that this motive ―back-fired‖ and has essentially desensitized viewers to violence in the real world.

If the above claims were true, then why do few people witness murder in real life but everybody sees murder being committed in the movies? If the original motive ―back – fired‖ why would the movie industry continue to put violence in today‘s movies? It is because film makers understand that violence is a spectacular way of holding the audience attention closely followed by sexual portrayal.  The most violent ghetto is not in Lagos or Warri, it is on the media. It is safe to say therefore that there is far more violence in the ―reel‖ world than in the ―real‖ world. The influence of violence in the ―reel-world‖ is best viewed as one of the many risk agents that can influence violence especially in youths. However no researcher will suggest that media violence is the sole cause of violent behaviour in youths.

Films in particular have been the center of much conflicting criticism and evaluation. Nesbett, (1996:12) posit that critics have accused motion pictures, television, and even comic books for causing, stimulating and encouraging socially improper attitudes and behavior. Media violence, such writers contend, degrades tastes, seduces the innocent and incites crime and juvenile delinquency. On the opposite side of the argument, however, substantial groups of authority have claimed that such fantasy and aggression often has socially beneficial effects by providing safe vicarious outlets for the supposedly pent-up hostile energy within the audience.

Why do people enjoy watching violent movies? How is that people getting stabbed, shot, beheaded, ripped apart, set on fire or a girl being raped is exciting to watch and therefore entertaining especially to youths?. Indeed man seems to have an impulse toward violence, an impulse that is restrained by learned pattern but since people forget learned patterns when their innate impulse towards violence is triggered either by personal confrontation or an encounter with violence in the media and the youths are most vulnerable and susceptible.

Conversely, attitudes towards violence are viewed as having a significant role in translation of aggressive actions or behavior (Paik 1994)).  Attitudes are governed by internal value system, persons develop their attitudes through a complex and particularly evaluative reactions to life experiences (Eysenck 1975) it is commonly admitted that attitudes have a significant power on behaviour especially violent behavior (Dodge 1980). For instance beliefs that violence is compulsory to achieve desired result may lead a person to focus on aggressive aspects of social cues or anticipate positive outcomes for violence behavior (Dodge 1980). This is often depicted in violent movies; the lead character who is also the hero is often seen to have triumph through the use of violence. Violence related beliefs are related to self-reported violent behavior as a result of exposure to violence. The link between exposure to violence and aggressive behavior, delinquency and later criminality has been thoroughly documented. Given the fact that youths are still in very active development stage it is therefore reasonable to agree and argue that there might be a relationship between exposure to violent movies and subsequent development of antisocial behavior.

Unfortunately violence is one of the most popular forms of entertainment. Research has shown that significant proportions of aggressive youths are likely to grow up to be aggressive adults (Philips 1983). Violence and antisocial behavior in the society today maybe primarily attributed to many factors including exposure to violent media messages like films. 


1.2   The Statement of the Research Problem

The claim that films can influence young viewers to become aggressive and resort to the use of violence in conflict situations is not unfamiliar. It is also an accepted fact that entertainment media play a powerful role in the formation of values, morals and social skills in youths. The portrayal of violence in films and its glamorization and glorification may constitute a risk factor for youth exposed to it. According to Baxter el al, (1985) some kinds of issues brought to some kinds of people under some kinds of condition have some kinds of effects. A direct connection between film violence and violent behavior among youths is receiving increasing attention. 

A lot of studies have been conducted on the effects of violent films on youths both the long and short time effects, which are impact studies. However there is a paucity of research on the effect of violent films on youth‘s moral development. Morals represent a key element of our human moral apparatus, influencing the link between moral standard and behaviour. As a society we try to teach our youths between right and wrong. What we are teaching them is really basic morality. Morality is constantly under construction and deconstruction which is subject to many influences such as family background, environment, socio-cultural factors, religion etc. One key factor is the media, in fact it has been argued that 80 percent of our moral stances on issues are shaped by the media like films. Youths are still in active developmental stage and highly susceptible to the high influence of films (Darbman, 1976).

1.3       Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim of the study is to establish the moral implications of youths exposure to violence portrayal in foreign films especially the Hollywood film industry.

1.      To examine the content of selected Hollywood films and determine the acts of violence therein.

2.      To explore the extent to which exposure to violence in films may lead to the cultivation of violent behaviour and its implications for moral development of youths.

3.      To suggest actions that may be taken to mitigate negative influences of Hollywood films on Nigerian youths. 

The study will be guided by the following research questions:

        i.            What are the acts of violence portrayed in the selected Hollywood films?

      ii.            To what extent can exposure to violent films lead to cultivation of violent behavior and its implication for moral development of youths?

    iii.            What action should be taken to mitigate any negative influence Hollywood movies might have on youth‘s moral development?

1.4              Significance of the Study

Film is a very important factor in the life of youths around the world and Hollywood films are very popular among youths. Excessive exposure to such films that depict violence and sexually explicit content is bound to influence viewers in one way or the other. Youths are also the major consumers of films, it is safe to say they are ignorant of the subliminal influence that exposure to violent and sexually explicit films will eventually have on their lives. This study exposes the dangers of excessive exposure to violent and sexually unhealthy contents on the moral development of youths. Youths are the leaders of tomorrow; therefore, this study will be of great benefit to parents and government agencies in their commitment to the protection of the value system and morality of youths and the country at large.

This study will also add to the existing literature on the effects of film as a medium on the audience. It will also provide materials for further study into the Hollywood film industry and its implications for moral development of youths. More importantly, this study investigates the moral lessons that underlie acts of violence exhibited by youths as a result of exposure to violent image.


1.5              The Scope of the Study          

The researcher focused on violence in Hollywood films and its potential implications for the moral development of youths who expose themselves to such films. In specific term, the study did a reading of two selected Hollywood films to first uncover violent acts portrayed in the films. The films were carefully selected based on their box-office hit and the number of nominations and awards they won in the years they were released, in the annual ―Teen choice awards‖. The researcher also exposed students of the Federal Polytechnic, Bida who represent the youth segment to the films. The researcher also involved film experts to lend their opinion on the subject of inquiry.  

1.6              Definition of Conceptual Terms

Violence:         Aggressive attitude and behaviour that will cause injury to self and others.

Moral:             The learning of values and attitudes that are in conformity with social norms, mores, and traditions

Youths:           Mostly from the age of 15 up to the adolescence 22 years. 

Film:                The representation of near reality dramatically presented in movie    

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