Excitation and hedonic valence in the effect of erotica on motivated Intermale aggression

Dolf Zillmann, Jennings Bryant, Paul W. Comisky, Norman J. Medoff

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The excitatory potential (low, high), the hedonic valence (negative, positive), and the type of content (erotic, non‐erotic) of visual stimuli were varied in a factorial design. Male subjects were provoked by a same‐sex peer, exposed to communication or, in a no‐exposure control, made to wait for a period of time equal to that of communication exposure, and then provided with an opportunity to retaliate against their annoyer. High excitatory potential and negative hedonic valence were found to combine additively in a facilitative effect on retaliatory aggression. No appreciable differences were found in the effect of excitationally and hedonically matched erotica and non‐erotica. Exposure to either arousing and displeasing erotica or non‐erotica produced levels of aggression significantly above the level associated with the no‐exposure control. Exposure to comparatively non‐arousing and pleasing erotica or non‐erotica failed to reduce aggression, however. The findings were considered to support a model that projects the effect of erotica on retaliatory aggression as a joint function of their excitatory potential and their hedonic valence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-252
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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