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The Impact of Mass Media Violence on U.S. Homicides

David P. Phillips
American Sociological Review
Vol. 48, No. 4 (Aug., 1983), pp. 560-568
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2117722
Page Count: 9
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The Impact of Mass Media Violence on U.S. Homicides
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Abstract

The impact of mass media violence on aggression has almost always been studied in the laboratory; this paper examines the effect of mass media violence in the real world. The paper presents the first systematic evidence indicating that a type of mass media violence triggers a brief, sharp increase in U.S. homicides. Immediately after heavyweight championship prize fights, 1973-1978, U.S. homicides increased by 12.46 percent. The increase is greatest after heavily publicized prize fights. The findings persist after one corrects for secular trends, seasonal, and other extraneous variables. Four alternative explanations for the findings are tested. The evidence suggests that heavyweight prize fights stimulate fatal, aggressive behavior in some Americans.

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