Pornography and Censorship

By David Copp; Susan Wendell | Go to book overview
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Dolf Zillmann, Jennings Bryant, Paul W. Comisky, and Norman J. Medoff


Excitation and Hedonic Valence in the Effect of Erotica on Motivated Intermale Aggression

Research on the effects of visual erotica on motivated aggressive behavior has produced findings which may appear to be contradictory. In one set of experiments (e.g., Zillmann, 1971; Meyer, 1972; Zillmann, Hoyt, and Day, 1974; Baron, 1979; Cantor, Zillmann, and Einsiedel, 1978; Donnerstein and Hallam, 1978), provoked persons exhibited more aggressiveness after exposure to erotica than after exposure to communications with nonerotic contents. This apparent facilitation of aggression due to exposure to erotica has also been demonstrated in comparison to conditions under which subjects were not exposed to particular communications ( Meyer, 1972; Sapolsky, 1977). In another set of experiments ( Baron and Bell, 1973, 1977; Baron, 1974a, 1974b, 1979; Donnerstein, Donnerstein, and Evans, 1975; White, 1979), however, provoked persons were found to aggress less against their tormentor after exposure to erotica than after exposure to neutral fare; and this apparent reduction of aggression was also observed relative to a noexposure control condition ( White, 1979).

Clearly, if all visual erotica had similar properties and elicited uniform responses, such discrepant findings would be difficult to reconcile. The erotica employed in the various investigations differ vastly along many conceptual dimensions, however. Some investigators used photographs of

Reprinted from the European Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 11, No. 3 ( 1981), pp. 233-252, permission of John Wiley and Sons Ltd. and Dolf Zillmann.

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