THE EFFECTS OF FILM-DEPICTED VIOLENCE ON SUBSEQUENT AGGRESSIVENESS, HOSTILITY, AND ANXIETY IN TWO MMPI-DETERMINED DELINQUENT SUBTYPES

JAMES THOMAS COUGHLIN, Fordham University

Abstract

The manner in which violence depicted in film and on television may affect the behavior and attitudes of viewers remains controversial and unresolved. The film and aggression literature has largely ignored the possibility that different personality types might respond to violence in varied ways. The likelihood that aggressive scenes evoke anxiety, which can serve to inhibit aggression, has also been a neglected area of research.^ The present study, using a social learning theoretical approach, attempted to determine how different personality types of male delinquents would respond to contrary outcomes of a violent film, as viewed on a classroom television. A sample of 60 delinquent youths was drawn from Lincoln Hall, a residential treatment facility, consisting of 30 adolescents each fitting MMPI code types 4-9 and 8-(1,2,7). The subjects were divided equally among three film conditions: (a) aggressive film with rewarded outcome, (b) aggressive film with punished outcome, and (c) a no-film control group. The dependent variables consisted of aggressiveness and hostility, as measured by the Buss-Durkee Inventory, and anxiety reactivity, as assessed by the Activity Preference Questionnaire. It was hypothesized that the 8-(1,2,7) or "neurotic-like" subjects would exhibit lower aggressiveness, greater hostility, and higher anxiety reactivity, both before and after viewing the film, than the 4-9 or "psychopathic-like" subjects. It was also predicted that film condition would have an effect, with: (a) the 4-9 reward and punishment film groups showing greater increases in aggressiveness and hostility from pre- to post-film than the 4-9 controls, (b) the 8-(1,2,7) reward and punishment film groups displaying greater increases in anxiety reactivity from pre- to post-film than the 8-(1,2,7) controls, and (c) the 8-(1,2,7) reward film group exhibiting greater increases in aggressiveness and decreases in hostility and anxiety reactivity than the 8-(1,2,7) punishment film group.^ The results indicated that the neurotic-like delinquents were significantly higher (p < .001) in anxiety reactivity than the psychopathic-like delinquents, both before and after viewing the violent film. The two MMPI code types did not differ on either aggressiveness or hostility. The different consequences (reward and punishment) to the characters in the violent film did not have a significant effect on increases in subsequent viewer aggressiveness, hostility, or anxiety reactivity.^ Based on these results, it was recommended that future film and aggression studies examine the response of anxiety in greater detail. An emphasis on the potential of film and television as a prosocial learning agent was encouraged. ^

Subject Area

Social psychology

Recommended Citation

COUGHLIN, JAMES THOMAS, "THE EFFECTS OF FILM-DEPICTED VIOLENCE ON SUBSEQUENT AGGRESSIVENESS, HOSTILITY, AND ANXIETY IN TWO MMPI-DETERMINED DELINQUENT SUBTYPES" (1985). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8521385.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8521385

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