Ramos, R. A., Ferguson, C. J., Frailing, K., & Romero-Ramirez, M. (2013). Comfortably numb or just yet another movie? Media violence exposure does not reduce viewer empathy for victims of real violence among primarily Hispanic viewers. Psychology Of Popular Media Culture, 2(1), 2-10. doi:10.1037/a0030119

Continued debate exists regarding the impact of media violence exposure on viewers’ thoughts and behaviors. One facet of this debate has focused on the possibility that viewing media violence may desensitize viewers to the suffering of others and reduce their empathy. In the current study, 238 mostly Hispanic, young adults were randomized to watch either a violent or nonviolent TV show. Participants also watched clips of either fictional victims of violence (i.e., movie clips) or clips of actual people being injured or killed. Participants were significantly more empathic of victims’ suffering when they knew they were watching real violence rather than fictional violence. However, previous exposure to a violent or nonviolent TV show did not reduce empathy. These results suggest that, at least among a primarily Hispanic audience, viewers’ processing of media depends upon whether they understand it to be real or fictional, and media violence does not necessarily reduce empathy to real-life violence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)