Erotica and aggression: The influence of sexual arousal, positive affect, and negative affect on aggressive behavior

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Abstract

95 male college students who had never taken a psychology course were first either angered or not angered by a confederate of the experimenter and were then ostensibly given an opportunity to aggress against the confederate by means of electric shock. Prior to aggressing, Ss were shown 1 of 4 sets of stimuli chosen to effect a factorial variation in the intensity of positive sexual arousal (high, low) and negative affect (high, low) elicited by exposure to such material. In addition, 1 group of angered Ss (no-exposure control) was included who did not view any of the 4 sets of stimuli prior to being given an opportunity to aggress. Results indicate that exposure to affectively positive erotic stimuli significantly reduced retaliatory behavior by angered males to a level below that exhibited by Ss exposed to neutral stimuli and by those in the no-exposure control group. In contrast, relative to baseline controls, Ss' exposure to erotic stimuli that were reported to be disgusting and unpleasant slightly enhanced subsequent aggressive behavior. Several possible mechanisms (e.g., attentional shifts, incompatible responses, cognitive labeling) are discussed in relation to the results. (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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