Health Promot Perspect. 2020;10(2): 162-165.
doi: 10.34172/hpp.2020.26
PMID: 32296630
PMCID: PMC7146035
Scopus ID: 85084385798
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Short Communication

An assessment of violent imagery in advertisements on city buses in Manhattan, New York City

Corey H. Basch 1* ORCID logo, Jan Mohlman 2, Charles E. Basch 3

1 Department of Public Health, William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ 07470,USA
2 Department of Psychology, William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ 07470, USA
3 Richard March Hoe Professor of Health and Education, Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
*Corresponding Author: Corey H. Basch, Email: baschc@wpunj.edu


Background: Violence or violent imagery, defined as any image that conveys an imminent physical or existential threat to person(s), property, or society, with or without weaponry, is often featured in advertising. However, the effects of exposure (sporadic or chronic) to such imagery are not fully understood. The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence and types of violence portrayed in advertising on public buses in New York City (NYC).

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, from April to July 2019, researchers catalogued and coded the print advertising images present on the passenger entry side of all Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) bus lines in Manhattan to determine whether images of violence or violent acts were present. Unlike images of alcohol and tobacco products (banned from MTA property in 2017 and 1992, respectively), there are no similar restrictions on violence or violent imagery.

Results: A total of 23 out of 136 (17%) observed advertisements included images of violence and/or actual or imminent violent acts. One hundred percent of images involving violence were embedded in advertisements for mass media/entertainment purposes often featuring well known and favorably regarded actors and entertainment personalities or companies.

Conclusion: People of all ages and backgrounds are passively exposed to bus advertisements in a variety of settings. This study contributes to the literature regarding the extent to which the public is passively exposed to violent advertising. Additional study is required to further understand the link between violent imagery and attitudes toward/tolerance of violence.

Keywords: Advertising, Violence, New York City, Aggression, Mass media
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Submitted: 10 Dec 2019
Accepted: 09 Feb 2020
ePublished: 30 Mar 2020
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