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NCJ Number: 70550 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Pornography and Violence Against Women - Experimental Studies
Journal: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences  Volume:347  Dated:(June 20, 1980)  Pages:277-288
Author(s): E Donnerstein
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 12
Sponsoring Agency: US Dept of Health, Education, and Welfare
Rockville, MD 20857
Grant Number: 1 F32 MH 07788-01
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper reviews three studies in order to examine the effects that certain media presentations have on aggression against women.
Abstract: Generally, it is believed that as erotic stimuli become more arousing, they give rise to increases in aggressive behavior. At a low level of arousal, however, such stimuli act to distract a subject's attention away from previous anger or act as an incompatible response with aggression, thus reducing subsequent aggressive behavior. In the first experiment, with regard to aggression measured by the intensity and durations of shocks administered to the male or female targets, two interactions were found. The first, anger and sex of target, indicated that angered subjects were more aggressive than nonangered subjects and that subjects angered by a male were more aggressive than those angered by a female. The second, anger and films, indicated that under nonanger conditions there were no effects for the films shown, but, when subjects were angry the erotic film increased aggression. No differential aggression was observed toward females as a function of film exposure. In fact, less aggression was administered to female subjects. The second experiment was formulated to create a condition in which male subjects would be less inhibited or restrained against aggression toward a female, in order to examine the effects that erotic exposure would have upon such aggression. The results indicate that highly erotic films can act to increase aggressive responses against females. Although there was no differential aggression towards males or females immediately following erotic exposure, when male subjects were given a second opportunity to aggress against the target aggressive responses were increased against female targets. In the third experiment in which male subjects were angered or treated in a neutral manner by a male or female and were then shown one of three films (two highly erotic but differing in aggressive content, and one nonerotic and nonaggressive), two interactions occurred. The first indicated that both the erotic and aggressive-erotic film increased aggression, primarily in angered individuals. The largest increase occurred for subjects exposed to the aggressive-erotic film. The second interaction indicated that while both types of erotic films increased aggression against a male, only the aggressive-erotic films increased aggression against a female, and the aggression level was higher than that directed against a male. Moreover, even under nonanger conditions aggression against females was increased while aggression against male targets was not influenced. One explanation is that the females' association witht the victim in the film made her an aggressive stimulus that could elicit aggressive responses. The combination of anger and arousal from the film heightened this response and led to the highest level of aggression against the female. Thirty-seven references are appended.
Index Term(s): Aggression; Behavior; Films; Interpersonal relations; Victim-offender relationships; Violence
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