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Mixed messages, mixed outcomes: the effects of reconciliation and retaliation story endings on aggression

Robert D. Ridge (Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA)
Brooke E. Dresden (Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA)
Felicia L. Farley (Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA)
Christopher E. Hawk (Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA)

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

ISSN: 1759-6599

Article publication date: 10 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of reconciliation and retaliation story endings on subsequent aggressive affect and behavior.

Design/methodology/approach

Participants took part in two ostensibly unrelated studies. The first involved reading a violent story, attributed to a biblical or secular source, which ended in either brutal retaliation or peaceful reconciliation. They then took part in a second study in which they completed measures of aggressive affect and behavior.

Findings

Participants told that their stories came from a secular source experienced a more aggressive affect than those told that their stories came from a biblical source. In terms of behavioral aggression, a significant difference in effect of the story ending on males and females emerged. Females who read the reconciliation ending had lower levels of behavioral aggression than females who read the retaliation ending. Conversely, males who read the reconciliation ending had higher levels of behavioral aggression than males who read the retaliation ending.

Research limitations/implications

These findings suggest that media depictions of prosocial reactions to unprovoked aggression may not reduce aggression in men.

Practical implications

Results are discussed in terms of moral values espoused by women and men and suggest that anti-violence messages may be strengthened to the extent they address the values important to both.

Originality/value

This study extends research on violent media exposure to a burgeoning literature on reading violent content.

Keywords

Citation

Ridge, R.D., Dresden, B.E., Farley, F.L. and Hawk, C.E. (2017), "Mixed messages, mixed outcomes: the effects of reconciliation and retaliation story endings on aggression", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 220-229. https://doi.org/10.1108/JACPR-12-2016-0265

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited