Dunand, M., Berkowitz, L., & Leyens, J-P. (1984). Audience effects when viewing aggressive movies. British Journal of Social Psychology, 23 (1), 69-76.

Abstract:  54 male undergraduates watched an aggressive or a neutral movie either alone, accompanied by a passive confederate (i.e., mere presence of a co-spectator), or an active one (i.e., reacting to the movie) to investigate audience effects when viewing filmed violence. It was predicted that the type of film would influence the viewer’s aggressive behavior, showing the usual instigative effect of movie violence. The subsequent behavioral measures of Ss’ aggression were collected via a modified aggression apparatus. Results show that the usual instigation effect of filmed violence was found. Furthermore, the type of audience also influenced aggression: Ss accompanied by an active confederate during the violent movie displayed their aggressive behavior most. Findings stress the importance of the social context when filmed violence is viewed and are discussed in terms of social facilitation and disinhibition effects. It is suggested that an active audience may promote a reduction of restraints against aggressing by showing the S that aggression is permissible. (22 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)