May 19, 2009
Popular TV Shows Inaccurately Portray Violent Crime
Researchers at Mayo Clinic compared two popular television shows, CSI and CSI: Miami, to actual U.S. homicide data, and discovered clear differences between media portrayals of violent deaths versus actual murders. This study complements previous research regarding media influences on public health perception. Mayo Clinic researchers present their findings today at the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting in San Francisco.
Previous studies have indicated television influences individual health behaviors and public health perceptions. Timothy Lineberry, M.D., a psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic, says "We make a lot of our decisions as a society based on information that we have, and television has been used to provide public health messages." Researchers chose to compare the crimes on CSI and CSI: Miami to real homicides because of the shows' combined audiences of more than 43 million viewers annually. They sought to determine how representative the portrayal of violent death crimes on the two series compared with data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Violent Death Reporting System.
Dr. Lineberry says, "If we believe that there is a lack of association with alcohol, that strangers are more likely to attack, and that homicide doesn't represent particular groups of people, it's difficult to create public health interventions that the general public supports." Other authors contributing to this study included Christopher Janish and Melanie Buskirk, both from Mayo Medical School.
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