Titus, J. M. (1999). The role of negative emotions in the media violence-aggression relation. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan, 1999). Dissertation Abstracts International 60 (5-A), 1380.
Abstract: The current study tested whether individual differences in “anxious arousal” to media violence and “angry arousal” to media provocation are related to differences in various personality traits, aggression, and exposure to violence in the media and in real life. Subjects first filled out a questionnaire assessing various personality traits and their beliefs about aggression. All subjects then viewed three film clips: a provocation clip, a violent clip, and a justified violent clip. After each clip, subjects filled out a questionnaire asking them to rate their specific emotional reactions (e.g., anger, anxiety, amusement). Physiological responses (heart rate, skin conductance, and finger temperature) and facial expressions were recorded throughout the film viewing. After viewing the clips, subjects’ beliefs about aggression were reassessed, and subjects participated in a reaction time task designed to measure aggressive behavior. Finally, subjects filled out a set of questionnaires assessing their exposure to violence both in real life and in the media. Subjects were classified as having high or low “anxious arousal” in response to the violent films, and as having high or low “angry arousal” in response to the provocation films. Differences in subjects’ traits, beliefs about aggression, changes in based on these classifications. It was predicted that those who were exposed to a great deal of violence (in the media and in real life) would be less “anxiously arousal” in response to the violent films. In turn, it was hypothesized that this depressed emotional reaction would be related to having cognitions more approving of aggression and to being more aggressive. It was also predicted that subjects who experienced high “angry arousal” to the provocation films would have cognitions more approving of aggression and would be more aggressive. Both of these groups were expected to have a greater increase in attitudes condoning aggression after viewing the justified violence clip as well. The predictions for anxiety to violence were supported, however, the predictions for anger to provocation were not. These results are discussed in terms of how they relate to the theory of emotional desensitization and theories linking provocation, anger, and aggression. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)