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Crime Shows: Fine Tuning The Criminal Mind?

Jul 17, 2008
There are numerous crime shows filling the prime time slots. And you can find some version of Law and Order, CSI etc. on at any time of day on a number of channels. The writers are increasingly creative and have a tireless supply of inspiration from real life events that they can put various spins on. The actors are dedicated and the directors are creating stories that are engaging and elicit emotional responses.

I know that personally they are my favorite thing to tune in to when I watch television. I watch a complicated crime unfold and the story develop around it until the criminals minimal error is exposed and the perp is collared! Usually this error is exposed by using a combination of a mastermind underpaid detective and the limitless resources of forensic science. I have often feared that this information may be misinterpreted by some as instruction. The program lays out how to commit the crime, what errors to avoid and if arrested how to see your trial through to acquittal.

The truth of the matter is that the numerous crime shows and frequency with which they air are in fact having an effect on real-world expectations. This effect has earned its own buzz phrase named the "CSI Effect" which is also referred to as the "CSI Syndrome". This effect is described as the viewing of crime shows raising victims and jury members expectation of forensic science. The television writers can overstate the accuracy of forensic techniques as well as exaggerate the ability of forensic science. The expectations of crime scene investigation and DNA testing are especially affected. Prosecutors are being pressured to present more forensic evidence in court. Potential jurors are sometimes asked if they are viewers of Forensic Crime shows as this trend is being considered.

In a similar vein, there are findings that suggest that forensic science shows help criminals cover their tracks. According to Joshua Marquis, an Oregon prosecutor, "It's not uncommon for criminals to now bring bleach with them to sanitize the crime scene." Criminals are learning what not to leave behind at crime scenes and getting much better at covering their tracks. Crime show effects on criminals can also be looked at on a flip side which is much more positive. It is likely that the message being conveyed to many is that no matter how they try to cover their crime, forensic science will reveal their identity.

Whether we look at the positive or negative effects on the criminal, victim or juror, the cultivation theory is supported by any one of the findings. The cultivation theory holds that television cultivates a distorted worldview in which one's perception of social reality resembles the reality portrayed in the television program. When looking at crime shows, the cultivation theory would say that the impact on an individual would be the tendency to overestimate the rate of violent crime or the prevalence of law enforcement officials.

We are exposed to a plethora of crime shows. The writers are increasingly creative and have a tireless supply of inspiration from real life events. And it seems that life events are being equally affected by the shows themselves! The emotional responses that these shows tend to elicit are carried over into our views, opinions and expectations of real life scenarios.
About the Author
I have an extensive background in Finance and Fiscal Procedure. I also have a web business where I offer Educational Computer Software and Games . I am very interested in the product itself as well as the subject matter that it involves. Please use the link above to visit us at The Software Spot! Thank you, Allison Merlino
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