Media Violence and Judgments of Offensiveness: A Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis

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Abstract

Although many studies examine the behavioral effects of viewing media violence, there is little research on whether such violence is perceived as offensive to viewers. Accordingly, the current study examines whether media violence is offensive to viewers and whether feelings of offense mediate the relationship between viewing media violence and aggressive behavior. Participants consisted of 1,429 emerging adults from 2 different Universities in the United States. Results revealed that compared with other content in the media, media violence is perceived as relatively inoffensive. Certain situational (context, genre, and type of violence) and viewer characteristics (gender and religiosity) influenced feelings of offensiveness for media violence. Feelings of offensiveness mediated the association between media violence and aggression, but for women only. Finally, qualitative analyses revealed a host of reasons why viewers are offended or not by media violence. Results are discussed in the context of the General Aggression Model.

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