Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The present study was designed to gain more perspective on human aggression and how sports media violence affects aggression levels. Anderson (1997) defined aggression as behavior that is intended to harm others or one's self. Anderson (2001) defined media violence as a portrayal of intentional harmful behavior directed at another person or the self. To define sports aggression, the definition of aggression must be manipulated slightly. The definition should be changed to a form of behavior intended to injure, whether or not an actual injury occurs, directed at an opposing team or opposing player to gain an advantage during the progression of play. An example of this would be trying to hurt a key player of the opposing team so that this player can no longer perform at a level expected of him by others. This definition does not include aggressive behavior toward people watching the game or officials during the game. It only pertains to playeron-player aggression and those actions taken that are allowed with in the rules of the game. Sports media violence does not include players and fan interaction, two fans fighting, or violent acts between players and officials. Many studies have been completed looking at human aggression levels and how certain media types affect aggression levels. In a study completed in 2001, it was shown that viewing violent movies can increase aggression levels in participants (Bushman & Anderson, 2001). Another study completed by Phillips (1986), examined and compared the homicide rates in America the day after a major boxing match had occurred to the average homicide rate. His findings suggest that a relationship between viewing boxing and homicide rates exists. The more people who viewed the fight the night before, the higher the homicide rates were in America the next day. The present study is attempting to look specifically at the effects of sports violence in the media on aggression levels of its viewers. Participants completed a Buss-Perry Aggression Scale before the experiment began to assess their pre-experiment aggression levels. Then the participants were randomly assigned to view one of the video groups: non-violent sport, violent sport, nonviolent movie, or violent movie. The participants were randomly assigned to conditions based on the times at which they signed up to complete the study. They next watched a five-minute video clip. The content of each video varied by the conditions of the experiment, for example, nonviolent sport, violent sport, nonviolent movie, or violent movie. After watching the video, each group was given the Word Completion Task to assess post-video aggression levels. Results indicated that after viewing violent forms of video material, sports and non-sports, aggression levels increased in participants significantly. But when participants viewed non-aggressive material their aggression levels did not increase significantly. Therefore, exposure to violent sports has the potential to increase levels of aggression following such exposure, just as exposure to violent movies and television shows increases aggression. However, there are other factors that play a role in the development of aggressive behavior.


Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Psychology