TAMIU Prof’s Study Shows Media Consumption not Predictor of Behavior
Posted: 5/16/13

TAMIU Prof’s Study Shows Media Consumption
 not a Predictor of Criminal Behavior

Childhood media consumption does not contribute to or predict later adult delinquents, according to a recent study by Texas A&M International University chair and associate professor, psychology, Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson.

“We basically find that genetics and some social issues combine to predict later adult arrests,” Dr. Ferguson stated.

“Despite ongoing concerns about media influences, media exposure does not seem to function as a risk factor for adult criminality,” he added.

The study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which included a representative sample of U.S. adolescents.

In the study, genetics accounted for more variance in criminal behavior among women, 58 percent, than men, 20 percent, although for both sexes, the genetic contribution was significant.

“Genetics was overall one of the strongest predictors of adult criminality among variables we considered in our analysis,” Ferguson said.

Other factors such as family environment, peers and socioeconomic status can also be predictors of adult criminality. He explained that no one thing by itself determines negative outcomes, but rather a confluence of unfortunate factors.

“Genetics alone don’t seem to trigger criminal behavior, but in combination with harsh upbringing, you can see negative outcomes. In our sample, experiencing maternal warmth seemed to reduce the impact of genetics on adult criminality,” Ferguson said.

Results demonstrate that exposure to maternal affection can have the potential to decrease criminal behaviors in those who might otherwise be at risk.

He added that this research can help focus on issues which really matter, such as family environment, and those that don’t—like media consumption.

“People may object morally to some of the content that exists in the media, but the question is whether the media can predict criminal behavior. The answer seems to be no,” Ferguson said.

For more information, contact Ferguson at cferguson@tamiu.edu, 326.2636 or visit office in Dr. F. M. Canseco Hall, room 302C.

University office hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.

Additional information is also available @txamiu on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and on the free TAMIU mobile phone and table application at www.tamiu.edu

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu