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Abstract

In order to examine audience effects when viewing firmed violence, 5 to 6 year old pre-school boys who had been rated as submissive by their teachers watched an aggressive or a neutral movie either alone, accompanied by another submissive classmate, or a dominant one. Subsequent aggression against a frustrating, unknown and unseen boy was delivered via a modified Buss machine, especially adapted for children. Subjects accompanied by a dominant peer were more aggressive than the others but did not react differentially to the movies. Subjects tested alone were more aggressive after the violent film than after the neutral one and the opposite pattern occurred for the boys accompanied by a submissive classmate. These findings stress the importance of the social context when viewing filmed violence. It is suggested that the quality of the audience can have different directional (e.g. fear and aggression) as well as energizing properties. Links with the literature on social facilitation and audience effects are underlined.