Priming aggressive thoughts: The effect of the anticipation of a violent movie upon the aggressive behaviour of the spectators



In order to examine the effects of filmed violence expectancy, male subjects were induced to think that they would watch an aggressive or neutral movie. The behavioural measures of aggression of the potential viewers were collected via an interaction aggressometer that allowed subjects to manipulate the level of aversiveness of electric shocks supposedly delivered to others. Main results indicated that the mere anticipation of viewing an aggressive movie was already effective in producing the usual instigation effect of filmed violence. Evidence was also provided indicating that degree of physical provocation influenced subjects' aggressive responses. The results are discussed in terms of Berkowitz' (1984) cognitive-neoassociation analysis; anticipating a violent movie may prime aggressive behaviour.