Effects of Group Size on Arousal Elicited From Viewing a Violent Stimulus
Bartholow, Bruce D.
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SubjectViolence in motion pictures--Physiological aspects; Violence in mass media--Physiological aspects
The Purpose of the present study was to assess the extent to which the physiological and cognitive effects of viewing violent media were mediated by the presence of other people. It was hypothesized that individuals who watched a violent film clip by themselves would exhibit greater physiological arousal, and would rate the film clip as more violent, than subjects who watched the same film clip in groups, and than subjects who watched a nonviolent film clip. A volunteer sample of 150 undergraduate women were assigned to one of six film viewing conditions, depending on whether they watched the violent or the nonviolent film clip, and on whether they watched the film clip alone or with two or four other persons. Physiological arousal was determined by measuring subjects' heart rate and blood pressure during viewing of the film clips. After viewing the film clips, each subject rated the films on six different cognitive dimensions. Results indicated that group size did not affect film ratings, or systolic or diastolic blood pressure, but a significant difference in heart rate between baseline and peak film viewing was obtained with subjects who watched the violent film clip alone. The findings of this study suggest a possible mediating effect on heart rate of viewing violent media in the presence of other people.
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