Title

Motivation for Watching Television Violence and Viewer Aggression

Publication Title

Mass Communication and Society

Publication Date

2003

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1207/S15327825MCS0601_4

Keywords

motivation, watching, television violence, aggression

Disciplines

Communication | Psychology

Abstract

We examined whether motivation for watching television violence explains viewer aggression and considered the contribution of individual viewer differences, including locus of control, experience with crime, exposure to television violence, perceived realism, and viewer involvement. Several viewing motives and individual differences predicted aggression. Where exposure to television violence was a significant predictor of aggression, experience with crime, locus of control, or motivation were stronger predictors. Path analysis revealed direct and indirect links between audience predictors and aggression outcomes. Results were consistent with uses and gratifications assumptions that individual characteristics and expectations mediate the impact of exposure. Individual characteristics predicted aggressive attitudes, often independent of motivation, contextual factors or attitudes, and exposure. There was no conclusive direct link between exposure and aggression. Because motivation for watching television violence differentially affected aggression, research that neglects to consider viewer motivation and other audience characteristics when drawing conclusions about the effects of violence on aggression is called into question.

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