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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1977 Jun;35(6):450-8.

Desensitization to portrayals of real-life aggression as a function of exposure to television violence.


In two separate experiments, the hypothesis that exposure to violence in the context of television drama decreases subjects' emotional responsivity to portrayals of real-life aggression was tested. Subjects were shown either an excerpt from a violent police drama or a segment of an exciting but nonviolent volley-ball game before watching a videotaped scene of real aggression. Emotionality was measured by changes in skin resistance which was measured continuously throughout the session. In Experiment 1, subjects were 8- to 10-year-old children and the real aggression was a film of an argument and fight between two preschoolers. In Experiment 2, college students participated and reactions to real aggression were measured while subjects watched scenes from news films of the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. With the exception of adult females, subjects who previously had viewed the aggression drama were less aroused by the scenes of real aggression than were subjects who had seen the control film. Further support for the hypothesis was provided by the finding that for most groups of subjects, the amount of television violence normally viewed was negatively related to responsivity while viewing aggression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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