“That created quite a stir,” says Romer, Annenberg Public Policy Center’s research director. “We looked at it three years later, and the trend was continuing. We’ve seen this in movies for a while now.”
But Romer and Jamieson, director of the policy center’s Annenberg Health and Risk Communication Institute, wanted to know whether such violence was as prevalent in television—by its nature, viewed more frequently than movies—and how it might be influencing homicides by firearm.
In a paper recently published in PLOS ONE, the pair showed that gun violence on popular primetime dramas doubled from 2000 to 2018, increasing in parallel with the proportion of deaths by firearm in the U.S. “Though we can’t draw a causal conclusion here,” Romer says, “we confirmed our hypothesis that what happens in the media could be influential. We were not necessarily surprised.”
Penn Today spoke with the researchers about the findings and where they hope the work goes next.
Funding for this research came from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.