Title

Contact sports exposure and viewer aggression

Date of Award

1999

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Mass Communications

Advisor(s)

Pamela J. Shoemaker

Keywords

Sports, Aggression, Contact sports, Viewer aggression

Subject Categories

Communication | Mass Communication | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology

Abstract

Prior research suggests a link between exposure to mediated violence and viewer aggression. Although there is reason to believe the relationship holds true for exposure to contact sports, more evidence is required. This dissertation employed two methods--a regional phone survey and an experiment--to test the relationship between exposure via the media to real-life contact sports and aggression. Although the data suggest such a relationship clearly exists, it is not always in the direction one might predict. In some cases, there is a negative correlation between contact sports exposure and aggression. Hierarchical regression analysis, controlling for a battery of other variables, found a positive relationship between football viewing and a willingness to hit another person if struck first. However, football exposure was negatively correlated with two measures of verbal aggression. In the experimental portion of the dissertation, subjects were either shown a video of no-holds-barred fighting or Olympic speed skating. Initial analysis uncovered no significant differences between control and experimental groups of either gender. However, when initial levels of aggression were considered, men high in aggression who saw no-holds-barred fighting became less aggressive, whereas similar men who saw speed skating became slightly more aggressive. The finding suggests that exposure to certain types of sports violence can inhibit aggression among certain men.

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