Catharsis and Media Violence: A Conceptual Analysis

FILE: Catharsis and Media Violence: A Conceptual Analysis

            This study defined catharsis as venting out aggression through exposure to media violence in order to reduce the risk of later aggressive behavior. The researcher negated the aggression catharsis hypothesis by providing four primary flaws with aggression catharsis hypothesis. First, the researcher contradicted Freud’s idea that aggression is a drive. The researcher argued that aggression is not a drive that must be vented out, thus, watching violent films will not drain the viewers of their present and future aggressive drive.

Second, the researcher argued that Aristotle did not imply that viewing media violence will remove the viewers of their aggressive feelings and behaviors.

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The researcher emphasized that Aristotle agreed that poetry and media have powerful emotional effects and that the media should inculcate good values to help the viewers in making wise choices. Third, the researcher pointed that there was no empirical evidence for catharsis, and consistent meta-analyses concluded that exposure to media violence increases the level of aggression of the viewers.

Finally, the studies on human neuroscience negated the idea of aggression catharsis hypothesis. According to fMRI studies, learning pathway of the brain is activated during the participants’ media violence exposure.

Thus, the consistent exposure of the participants to media violence will make them agree to take the underlying concept that aggression is acceptable and they will most likely to transfer the learning in real life. 

Jennifer Francia P. Villanueva, RPm

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