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Impact of Violence Exposure on Hostility, Physiological Arousal, and Health in Youth

Brady, Sonya S. (2005) Impact of Violence Exposure on Hostility, Physiological Arousal, and Health in Youth. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study examined the joint effects of lifetime exposure to violence within the home and community and acute exposure to media violence on hostility, physiological arousal, and attitudes toward health risk behaviors. One hundred male undergraduates aged 18-21 who had previously reported low or high lifetime amounts of violence were randomly assigned to play a videogame low (The Simpsons: Hit and Run) or high (Grand Theft Auto III; GTA III) in violent content. Participants randomly assigned to GTA III exhibited greater changes in systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure from the initial rest period to game play, and greater negative affect subsequent to game play, in comparison to adolescents randomly assigned to The Simpsons. Participants randomly assigned to GTA III also exhibited more permissive attitudes towards drinking alcohol and using marijuana and were more competitive during a subsequent task. Greater lifetime violence exposure was associated with greater changes in SBP and pulse rate from the initial rest period to game play and with more permissive attitudes towards violence and drinking alcohol. Two interactions between lifetime violence exposure and laboratory media violence condition were found. Within the low lifetime violence exposure group, videogame condition was not associated with change in SBP from the initial rest period to game play, while within the high lifetime violence exposure group, play of Grand Theft Auto III predicted greater changes in SBP. Lifetime community violence exposure interacted with laboratory media violence condition in predicting hostile attributions. Within the high community violence exposure group, play of GTA III was associated with greater likelihood that participants would think a teacher would accuse them of cheating. The present study is the first experimental study to show that media violence is associated with permissive attitudes towards health risk behaviors that do not directly involve hostility or aggression, such as alcohol and marijuana use. Media violence effects observed in the laboratory may be representative of how any type of violence exposure influences youth, including real-world violence within homes and communities. One consequence of acute or chronic violence exposure among young men may be a greater willingness to engage in generally risky behavior.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Brady, Sonya
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMatthews, Karen A
Committee MemberBaum, Andrew
Committee MemberShaw, Daniel
Committee MemberMulvey, Edward P
Committee MemberDorn, Lorah
Committee MemberPogue-Geile, Michael
Date: 4 October 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 9 May 2005
Approval Date: 4 October 2005
Submission Date: 17 August 2005
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: community violence; media violence; risk behavior; social information processing; videogame
Other ID:, etd-08172005-111711
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:59
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:49


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