Impoverished imagination: a possible mechanism for television-induced aggression

PhD thesis

Moore, S. 1994. Impoverished imagination: a possible mechanism for television-induced aggression. PhD thesis Middlesex University
TypePhD thesis
TitleImpoverished imagination: a possible mechanism for television-induced aggression
AuthorsMoore, S.

While there has been much research investigating the
consequences of viewing media violence, there is comparatively little research on the antecedents of viewing it. Television relies primarily on visual imagery but as yet there has been little research concernIng viewers' visual Imagery ability. It is hypothesized that viewers with vivid visual imagery have, in contrast to non-vivid visual imagers, the skills necessary to manipulate violent images of real events and distance themselves from them. Thus it was predicted that non-vivid visual imagers would show more elevated physiological and emotional responses to real violence. If physiology is a substrate of aggression then features that have been seen to change levels of behavioural aggression in previous studies should have similar effects on physiology. Previous research has suggested that it is real rather than fictional violence that has the greatest effect on viewers
(Berkowitz & Alioto, 1973; Geen, 1975). It has also been
suggested that increases in physiological activity can have an
intensifying effect on emotional states, giving it "visceral quality" (Schacter & Singer, 1962; Reisenzein, 1983). Thus it was predicted that real violence would produce the greatest increases In both physiology and negative mood experience. In a series of four experiments 140 participants' heart rates, electrodermal activity and mood states were assessed in response to differing types of film violence. As predicted, participants' physiological responses, particularly heart rates, were more elevated to real violence, an effect that was reflected in negative mood ratings. Variables such as violence-justification and the type of violence were also seen to yield differential physiological activity. There was also evidence, as predicted, that non-vivid imagers were more physiologically reactive to real violence than high imagers, although this was not reflected in mood rating differences. These results suggest that physiological responses are a fundamental component of aggression and that they play an important role in determining the level of emotional experience. Individual difference factors such as visual imagery ability also play an influential role In shaping responses to media violence.

Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print20 Jan 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited20 Jan 2015
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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