Victim reactions in aggressive erotic films as a factor in violence against women

Edward Donnerstein, Leonard Berkowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations


Investigated whether the behavioral characteristics of the people in erotic films and the nature of the targets available for aggression afterward can affect subsequent aggression. In Exp I, 80 male undergraduates were angered by a male or female confederate. They were then shown a neutral film or 1 of 3 erotic films. The erotic films differed in terms of their aggressive content (2 were aggressive and 1 was not) and the reactions of the female victim in the 2 aggressive films (positive vs negative). Ss were then allowed to aggress against the confederate via electric shock. Results indicated that films had no effect on male targets, whereas both types of aggressive erotic films increased aggression toward the females. In Exp II with 80 male Ss, the effects of the above films on nonangry viewers were investigated with only female confederates. Results indicate that angered Ss were more aggressive toward the female after viewing either aggressive erotic film but that only the positive-outcome aggressive film increased aggression in nonangered Ss. The theoretical and applied aspects of aggressive and nonaggressive erotica are discussed. (40 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-724
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1981


  • victim reactions in erotic films, aggressiveness toward males vs females, male college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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