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Fear Reactions to Violent Content

  • By: Mary Elizabeth Dunn
  • In: Encyclopedia of Media Violence
  • Edited by: Matthew S. Eastin
  • Subject:Mass Communication, Aggression & Violence, Violence & Society

The study of fear and fright reactions is important for media effects researchers because it fosters understanding of the natural and automatic reactions of viewers to specific contexts and situations. It is important to understand the effects of these events in order to grasp the power of media. According to Joanne Cantor (2009, p. 290), “fear is generally conceived of as an emotional response of negative hedonic tone related to avoidance or escape, due to the perception of real or imagined threat.” Although people are capable of developing coping mechanisms, such as avoidance or denial, in response to fear-inducing media and experiences, the initial emotional and physiological responses to these situations are natural and unavoidable. Fear reactions to media are a well-developed area of research. ...

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