Men, Women, and Televised Violence: Predicting Viewer Aggression in Male and Female Television Viewers

Publication Title

Communication Quarterly

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Televised Violence; Viewer Aggression; Gender Differences; Media Violence


Communication | Sociology


This study examined whether the motivation for watching television violence and several audience and contextual factors, including locus of control, experience with crime, exposure to television violence, perceived realism, and involvement, explain differences in viewer aggression in women and men. Motivation was a much more important predictor of viewer aggression for males than for females. Among men, when exposure to televised violence was a significant predictor of aggression, experience with crime, locus of control, and motivation were stronger predictors. Among women, background factors (experience with crime and locus of control) predicted aggression. These results support the “uses and gratifications” theoretical suppositions that individual characteristics mediate the impact of media exposure. Because background factors and motivation for watching television violence impacted viewer aggression differently in men and women, the data raise questions about research concluding that sheer exposure to television violence leads to aggression. Results suggest the need to scrutinize further the role of viewer motivation and other audience and contextual factors, as well as the importance of gender differences in the individual-use-exposure relationship.