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Title:Reconceptualizing Attraction to Media Violence: A Meta -Analysis and an Experiment
Author(s):Weaver, Andrew Joseph
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Wilson, Barbara J.
Department / Program:Speech Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Mass Communications
Abstract:This dissertation addresses the attraction of media violence. A number of theoretical perspectives predict that increased violence should increase attraction for some viewers. Viewers' attraction to media violence is also often cited as a reason that violent content is so widely produced. However, the existing research on attraction produces a somewhat more complicated picture. Studies have shown that violence could increase, decrease, or have no effect on attraction. These muddled findings are due in part to widely disparate definitions of what attraction actually is. In this dissertation, attraction is redefined as two distinct constructs: selective exposure and enjoyment. Two studies were conducted to examine these two processes. The first was a meta-analysis on the existing selective exposure and enjoyment research. This meta-analysis revealed that studies of selective exposure yielded significantly different results than studies of enjoyment. Specifically, violence did not influence selective exposure, but it significantly decreased enjoyment. The second study was an experiment conducted to further explore this relationship between violence and enjoyment. In this study, five episodes from prime-time television series were edited to create three versions of each: a version with graphic violence, a version with sanitized violence, and a version with no violence. Participants answered a sensation seeking questionnaire, a trait aggression questionnaire, a set of demographic questions, and questions about their media habits. Participants were then randomly assigned to view 1 of the 15 edited episodes. Following the viewing, participants answered questions about their enjoyment of and their emotional reactions toward the episode that they watched. After controlling for action, viewers enjoyed the nonviolent episodes significantly more than the violent episodes. This finding held for females and males, aggressive and nonaggressive individuals, and high sensation seekers and low sensation seekers. Thus, the widely held belief that viewing violence is enjoyable, at least for certain groups (e.g., aggressive males), was not supported. In fact, for each subgroup, violence decreased enjoyment. The practical and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.
Issue Date:2006
Description:191 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2006.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3243022
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2006

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