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Video: Do Crime TV Dramas Help Society?

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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- When you think of crime TV dramas, the first thing that may pop into your mind is typically murder and violence. But, MSU Instructor Dr. Emily Garrigues-Marett says crime TV shows are actually helping society.

“What our study shows is that you shouldn’t say that crime dramas are 100% bad, that not every single episode is only going to lead to negative effects,” said Garrigues-Marett.

Marett found viewers who watch shows like CSI or Criminal Minds are more likely to help prevent or intervene in cases of sexual assault.

“We did an experiment where we talked to college students and surveyed them and we asked them ‘well how much are you watching crime dramas?’ And we measured that and the more crime dramas they watched, the more likely they were to say that they would stop someone if they saw someone slip a drug into a drink or if they thought their friend was in an awkward situation at a party. That would kind of swoop in and make sure they’re okay,” said Garrigues-Marett.

However, MUW professor Dr. Barry Smith thinks more needs to be done before we come to that conclusion.

“Because it is the 1st study, it’s a little bit soon to say this is going to hold up,” said Smith.

Smith adds, that like any other learned behavior, it will take time to study the effects.

“It’s not usually an immediate negative effect, it’s not like someone would watch violence on TV and run out and immediately commit a murder or sexual assault but there has been a lot of evidence over the years that shows that when people watch violence on TV, they become desensitized to violence, it becomes something that is not as shocking to them and increases levels of violent thoughts..which can lead to violent action,” said Smith.

But before you think TV violence is bad media, Garrigues-Marett says reconsider the positive spin to the shows.

“Yes, maybe some of the crime is going to try to glamorize it and that’s still something we should work on, but so far, crime dramas are still getting some really positive messages out that do help society,” said Garrigues-Marett.

Marett also says bystander intervention from watching TV dramas creates an environment where sexual assault is not tolerated. It also helps people understand and support victims.