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The Psychological Impact of Viewing the Film "JFK": Emotions, Beliefs, and Political Behavioral Intentions

Lisa D. Butler, Cheryl Koopman and Philip G. Zimbardo
Political Psychology
Vol. 16, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 237-257
DOI: 10.2307/3791831
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3791831
Page Count: 21
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The Psychological Impact of Viewing the Film "JFK": Emotions,
                            Beliefs, and Political Behavioral Intentions
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Abstract

Oliver Stone's controversial film, JFK induced an array of psychological sequelae in an educated, politically diverse audience seeing the film under natural circumstances. Fifty-three adults were surveyed as they entered a theater to see the film, while another 54 respondents answered the same questions as they exited from seeing the film. The film significantly aroused anger and changed beliefs toward accepting the broad conspiracy hypothesis of multiple agents and agencies involved in the Kennedy assassination and its cover-up. The film's impact on moods, beliefs, and judgments was found to be specific to the themes and persuasive message of the film and did not carry over to general political judgments or to perceptions of conspiracies in viewers' own lives, with one exception: viewing JFK was associated with a significant decrease in viewers' reported intentions to vote or make political contributions. A general helplessness effect is proposed to account for the increase in feelings of anger and hopelessness and the decrease in intentions to vote or make political contributions.

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