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Utahn who pioneered research on media violence dies

Published January 18, 2013 6:09 pm

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This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Victor B. Cline, a Utah psychologist who pioneered research on the effect of media violence on young minds, died Jan. 15. He was 87.

Cline, who earned a doctorate in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, taught at the University of Utah for 43 years as well as maintaining a private clinical practice. He focused on improving marital and family relationships, and, with his wife, Lois, created a Marriage Enrichment course, which included workshops and individual training. He also treated hundreds of clients addicted to pornography.

But it was his early research on media violence that catapulted Cline onto the national stage, says son Rick Cline, and into the pages of Life magazine.

"I am convinced by a vast amount of research that the images, fantasies, and models which we are repeatedly exposed to in advertisements, entertainment, novels, motion pictures, and other works of art can and do," Cline said at a professional meeting in Norfolk, Va., as quoted in a 1989 LDS General Conference, "affect the self-image and, later, the behavior of nearly all young people and adults, too."

Cline's media research continues to resonate with some experts today, his son says, especially given current concerns about youth violence in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre.

Cline, a lifelong Mormon, was a popular speaker, author and teacher in the church community. In a later book, How to Make Your Child a Winner, he applied psychological principles to parenting and relationships.

"He really practiced what he preached," says Rick Cline, the fifth of nine children, "and that's not always easy to do."