An episode of Woody Woodpecker was once used in a scientific study to see how television violence affects children

Because let's be honest, hearing that laugh enough times would make anyone aggressive.

It's an argument that's been around nearly as long as the television has been a major fixture in every American home: For better or for worse, television affects your brain. This is especially true for children, whose brains are still developing. This can be a positive thing with the important educational content made specifically to teach children. However, some academics have argued that when children's content leans toward lower moral standards, including depictions of violence, it can cause the viewer to mirror those behaviors and become violent themselves.

This was the subject of a scientific experiment helmed by Dr. Alberta Siegel, who specialized in aggression and social policy as it related to child development. The experiment was relatively simple: Two children were invited to "watch a movie" and accompanied the experimenter to a playroom, where they were shown one of two films. Dr. Siegel then left the room for fifteen minutes while the children were left alone in the playroom. There, they would have fifteen minutes of what they believed to be unsupervised playtime.

After fifteen minutes, the experimenter would return. As the children watched the film, Dr. Siegel would take visual notes of the children's levels of anxiety as well as aggression. Afterward, the children would be observed by the experimenters, who would take note as to whether their playing behavior became anxious or aggressive.

The two films chosen for the experiment were "The Little Red Hen: Background for Reading Expression" and Woody Woodpecker in "Ace In The Hole." In the study, Siegal wrote that the film was chosen by psychologists for "its direct, unabashed, and easily comprehensible portrayal of extreme interpersonal aggression." Siegal also wrote that "Raw aggression and unrelenting hostility dominate almost every sense of this."

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25 Comments

justjeff 9 months ago
While browsing online through some old movie industry publications, i found this ad in the 1945 edition of The Film Daily's annual yearbook...
Coldnorth justjeff 2 months ago
Car tunes?
justjeff Coldnorth 2 months ago
Yep... perhaps refererring to musical numbers within the short subjects... or also Lantz just trying to be different in his marketing...
Bapa1 10 months ago
Yeah, they've only been around for about a hundred years. I used to think spinach would help me in a fight also.
RedSamRackham Bapa1 9 months ago
* As "yoots" we also believed that certain breakfast cereals and name brand gym shoes would give us superior athletic ability. But in a cartoon Tom Terrific explained that such beliefs only gave us confidence!
justjeff 10 months ago
Anyone who thinks cartoons are too violent deserves a kick in the butt and a punch in the nose!
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justjeff RedSamRackham 9 months ago
Perhaps so, but I was just poking fun at the "violence in cartoons will corrupt our kids" arguments from back in the day. I, for one *never* had a desire to blow up things, hit others with hammers (or anvils), etc. or create any kind of mayhem...

However, in my younger adult days, I *was* prone to having my eyes pop out of my head and my jaw drop and tongue hang out when a gorgeous girl walked by... Ah! Memories...
bmoore4026 justjeff 7 months ago
Wonder what would have happened if they showed them a Japanese cartoon like Dragonball Z.
Coldnorth justjeff 2 months ago
Sylvester and the kangaroo 🦘?
justjeff Coldnorth 2 months ago
"But-but-but thun! Ith's a Giant Mouth..."😉
BrittReid 10 months ago
Violence? They should of tried Tom & Jerry.
Bapa1 BrittReid 10 months ago
The Dietch cartoons cause madness.
TheSentinel Bapa1 8 months ago
I hated the Gene Deitch Tom & Jerry shorts, especially the shorts where Tom got ruthlessly thrashed (off-camera) by his hot-tempered owner of the time any time he messed up.
Snickers 10 months ago
Funny as how I was a kid in the 60's watching Saturday morning cartoons and Woody Woodpecker and I never went out and robbed a bank or turned into a serial killer.
Snickers 10 months ago
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Snickers daDoctah 10 months ago
Good point. Of course I do like a good rumba.
Bapa1 Snickers 10 months ago
Not yet anyway, but the day is not over.
Bapa1 daDoctah 10 months ago
I know I did, jazz fingers!
MrsPhilHarris Snickers 10 months ago
I was thinking the same thing.
Runeshaper 10 months ago
I'm glad that this article was written as it does bring an important topic to light: parents need to be careful what they allow their children to watch.
TheSentinel Runeshaper 8 months ago
Especially in this day and age.
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