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Social Behavior Contagion Hypothesis Within Media [Connecticut Shooting]

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posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 03:14 PM
The ideas presented in this thread are a direct result of the tragedy which occurred today at an Elementary School in Connecticut. The details are still poring in, but what do know is that at least 28 people were murdered in cold blood by some lunatic.

Contagion Hypothesis

We mostly know this as crowd psychology or group think.

How the actions of one individual, in conjunction with many other factors can create an environment ripe with copy cats.

This article I found entitled " Revisiting the Contagion Hypothesis: Terrorism, News Coverage, and Copycat Attacks discusses the repercussions of media coverage and what their effect is on the general population.

However, based on their quantitative analysis of media reporting (or non-reporting) of terrorist incidents and subsequent terrorist strikes of the same type (i.e., hijackings, kidnappings), Gabriel Weimann and Conrad Winn concluded that their data "yielded considerable evidence of a contagion effect wrought by coverage." More specifically, these scholars found that "television coverage was associated with a shortened lag time to emulation in the case of kidnapping, attacks on installations, hijackings, bombings, and assassinations."[6]

Alex P. Schmid and Janny de Graaf concluded in their study Violence as Communication that "[t]he media can provide the potential terrorist with all the ingredients that are necessary to engage in this type of violence. They can reduce inhibitions against the use of violence, they can offer models and know-how to potential terrorists and they can motivate them in various ways."[7] Similarly, Brian Jenkins wrote, "Initial research tentatively suggests that heavy media coverage of hijackings, kidnappings and other hostile seizures carried out by terrorists increases the likelihood that similar incidents will occur in the period immediately following. A RAND analysis of embassy seizures during the 1970s showed them occurring in clusters, clearly suggesting a contagion effect."[8]

In this case they discuss Terrorism in depth as it's perhaps the most relevant in the 21st century. At least since 911 many, including myself have claimed that Governments are directly increasing the rate of terror attacks and groups by acting themselves, as terrorist organizations.

Contagion is possible at two levels, and can happen in two ways. On one level, a group might copy a particular terrorist technique, and on another level a group might copy a general terrorist strategy. Either of these might happen directly or indirectly. All these forms of contagion take place. The primary form, however, is the adoption of a general terrorist strategy without direct contact. All other forms of contagion are secondary to this.[26]

This idea however does not only stem from Terrorism. Many have alluded that unrelenting media coverage and 'idolization' of murderers such as this Lanza character can influence others to see the same kind of twisted recognition.

As an example in recent memory the story of Body Parts Killer in my Country of Canada. This narcissistic evil person, craved attention and the more the media covered the story, the more excited and elated he was.

Proof by the fact that when arrested overseas, he was looking up stories of himself online.

Even prior to anybody knowing he was killing humans, when the infamous Kitten Vacuum video surfaced a group of internet folk started tracking him down and alerting authorities to his presence online and his actions. The police were never able to take action and those online denizens attempted their own forms of social justice.

Today they wonder if they caused the situation to escalate with all the attention they were giving him.

It's important for us to realize that the way we discuss things has an impact on how people react to things. Certain images and words can have profound effects on our psyche and we should be asking our media conglomerates to take a deep look at their way of doing things.

What do you all think ATS? Is contagion hypothesis valid or just hogwash?


ETA: As an add on and for further reading, I would suggest this thread by fellow member Hefficide.

edit on 12/14/2012 by tothetenthpower because: (no reason given)

edit on 12/14/2012 by tothetenthpower because: (no reason given)

edit on 12/14/2012 by tothetenthpower because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 03:25 PM
I completely agree with the assertion that glorifying murderers only promotes their actions. When I say glorying I mean giving them ANY media coverage.

Why, and this is a question I pose a lot, do we need to know about 21 people being murdered? I don't say this as a cold blooded criticism, but hear me out:

In the UK our media is chock full of news stories about people being murdered, it's everyday all day, our children watch the news (as it's considered family viewing, obviously) and all they see is misery, war and murder. Of course they're going to grow up cynical and hateful, twisted and damaged. I'm one of them! I grew up with nothing but bad news and negative views (from other people) towards the people I live with (a working class Liverpudlian family).

Murderers LOVE the attention, that's why they do it mostly. They crave affection from the public, it emancipated them above whatever 'system' it was they 'rebelled' against so violently. They NEVER take personal responsibility for their actions as they're always 'victims to their circumstance', something I hear touted with worrying frequency these days.
The north, east, west, south should just ignore them COMPLETELY. Don't give their names, don't give us their face, just hang them in seclusion. Don't even give them a last dinner. Don't allow them ANY contact with the outside world and for GODS SAKE stop interviewing them for ridiculous psychology books! As though they have deep frikkin insight!

There's a lot of things making society a terrible thing to be part of, the NEWS is most certainly one of them....

I forgot to add! I agree with the hypothesis to an extent. Anyone can discern a bad decision from a good one, unless they lack the social conscience (a psychopath) or any conscience for that matter. If they do lack it, they should be allowed to AGE in seclusion. If not make examples of these people instead of touting them in our faces like some warped state trophy catch.
edit on 11/10/2012 by Joneselius because: (no reason given)

edit on 11/10/2012 by Joneselius because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 03:43 PM
This isn't a gun issue. It's not even a mental health issue, I don't think. It's a societal issue. A world where we have taught that only success, beauty, money, and transient pleasure matter. That greed is good, and ends justify the means - and all satisfaction is instant and at hand.

We are, deliberately or not, creating a shallow, self-obsessed, and vapid culture. born on Madison Ave, raised in Hollywood, and broadcast into every living room, bedroom, and car in the the western world.

The sad truth is that we have glorified all of the wrong things, for so long, that we've altered the nature of ourselves and our children.

Now all that matters is "me" and all else is either a resource or a target.

The pathogen we face is the cult of self. People learning that only winners count, when, in the reality of things, that structure limits as any race can only have so many medalists. We place too much emphasis upon ego and vanity - and not enough upon mutual concerns and seeing that what is good for the group is also good for the individual.

We are all on the same sinking ship and there is no glory in being the last man to drown. This is a false ideal that we seem to have taken upon ourselves to covet. When one falls, we all fall. When one rises, we are all uplifted.

Tragedies, like this... just leave me so very disillusioned.


posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 03:46 PM
reply to post by Hefficide

It's important I think to mention that as our world becomes smaller, with the invention of the 24hr news cycle, social media at every turn and the fact that we are connected 24/7 via the internet, we've become far more polarized.

We've lost all sense of privacy and in conjunction with the ongoing erosion of our personal freedoms along with the cult of self as you so eloquently put it has created a more violent society.


posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 04:02 PM
The Columbine killers wanted to top McVeigh's body count. Pure and simple....they wanted to go down in a blaze of immortality. And they did.

I would love it if the media worked together to keep the perpetrator's name out of the limelight. Not sure it's possible, but if we could "ignore" the perp maybe others wouldn't be drawn towards a copycat crime.

I'll be honest. I will be a nervous wreck in school on Monday. Just because, I guess.

Hugs to all

posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 04:10 PM
Something else to consider in adding to the contagion hypothesis is the cultural climate where right now, we're currently in a cultural climate of 2012 apocalypse, where media coverage only adds to the furor and sense of impending dread that sends an unstable personality over the edge.

If the world is going to end, why not get my kicks now?

Granted, the world is not going to end, but, when looking at personalities on the fringe of stability, any number of perceived triggers, note 'perceived' as in real or imagined, may enable them to rationalize whatever extreme action they then conduct.

posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 04:11 PM
The news cycles no matter what form of media is promoting it, promotes fear, and anxiety for all people.

Might I point out that there are 7 billion people on this planet, the amount of crimes committed and the amount of people alive are so small its actually more of a cause for fear then what they are promoting.

There was a time that there was more murders by dinosaurs against humans at one point and people still went outside. We cannot avoid what happens out there, even with the supposed heads up that the news keeps reminding us of.

This causes us to be more fearful of everyone. When was the last time someone smiled at you for no reason and your first thought was "I hope that person doesn't kill me"?

Peace, NRE.

posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 04:16 PM
Reminds me of this. Again. And this is how it will be reported. Again.

And yet this whole forum descends into British people telling American people to give up their guns, as they were forced to, while ignoring the real problems (whatever they are) that drive people do this.

posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 04:18 PM
reply to post by tothetenthpower

This reminds me of those high school chicks and their hysteria earlier this year. Wasn't it spread through social media?

posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 04:29 PM
Even if the hypothesis is correct: it is much too late to prevent anymore killings outside of changing the culture, being more aware of those with mental health issues, and reducing the ability of the potentially violent to gain access to weapons (no, I'm not advocating gun control, please don't turn this into that argument). This copy-cat incident has become a sort of violent and socially deranged meme. Once one person uses the meme, another person will copy it and add their own particular details until its a mass phenomena. The meme in this case is this:

"Hey, are you person who feels (or is) disaffected by society or a particular group in society, and you can't seem to find another outlet to express or relieve that disaffection--well here is what you can do!"

The problem is this sort of meme has no real way of being dealt by traditional means. Creating a stronger security premise is possible, but the net would have to be very-wide and very targeted. Such a net would be impossible to maintain without severely legally dubious espionage tactics on the public that both practically and political inviable, period. This is true Pandora's Box situation in that the meme that has been released can no longer be easily repressed without deep and long-lasting social and cultural change. Upon further person reflection--it trully scares the # out of me, because the acts the meme incites are incredibly violent and the response by th e public will no doubt as equally over the top, authoritative , and over-protective.

edit on 14-12-2012 by theghoster because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 14 2012 @ 05:12 PM
reply to post by tothetenthpower

There is no doubt that forms of Media can influence peoples ideas and behaviours. This principal is well known and used in marketing and advertising of products, services.

The media will do its best to feed emotional information into a human being. The most aggressive forms of this is like the short 15 second commericals on TV where there is no time to debate with the reasoning of the human mind. The purpose of this is aimed directly at controlling and influencing our reactions at an emotional level.

The most recognised forms of media in this regard are News programs, Entertainment shows, Political campaigns. Each of these uses interlays inside its programs content emotional triggers. These triggers are psycological and hidden in words, phrases and images.

There is an inherent risk here however because sometimes the triggers work too well. We have all seen and know of examples of people who seemlying without warning fly off the handle (hence why ATS has a Rant forum).

These people will be loud and critizing, and any attempt to speak rationally they will immediately become more agressive, or deceptive saying they have been hurt and no one can understand them....basically acting like a spoilt child and doing their upmost best to avoid any reasoning with them. As they say hell is the impossibility of reason and we all know what spoilt children are really after attention!

The thinking minds behind the controlled Media understand all this and use it to sell, market and advertise entertainment for the masses, who by the way are most the time either thinking of eating, getting laid, or engaged in some mundane mandatory life routine they hate.

As regard to the Contagion theory i view it as a psycological trigger gone haywire. Put too much electrical current into a computer and it either quickley fails to silence or something more visually disturbing occurs, smoke and fire comming out of machine.

Unfortunately for the human being we are the results of a production line process. A Human being cookie cruncher that will never be perfect because of the mant variations and tolerances in process line. There will always be a % of failure rejects of human cookie men and woman.

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