Cathartic Effects/Hypothesis

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  • Research prevalent in the 1960s suggested that crime and violence in the mass media may be a direct or at least a contributory cause of aggressive behavior. But one point of view suggested that exposure to this type of programming may, under appropriate conditions, have a desirable, cathartic effect. The notion of a medium having a cathartic effect on its subjects dates back to Aristotle. It surfaced in modern mass communications research in 1961, when Seymour Feshbach performed a study that found a reduction in aggressive acts by college students under certain conditions. When these students were first insulted and made angry and then exposed to a film about boxing, they exhibited less hostility than students who were not first insulted. Feshbach theorized that ...

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