This chapter reviews the research that has examined individuals' interest in media violence. It reviews definitions of media violence, as well as affect-based approaches to attraction to media violence (i.e., mood management and mood adjustment) and reviews the research findings that use this approach. Next, it reviews disposition-based theories that focus on how individuals evaluate media characters, form affiliations with them, and affectively respond to them. Disposition-based theories offer one possible explanation for attraction to media violence. Functional approaches (e.g., threat mastery) and psychological correlates of interest in media violence are also explored. Lastly, it proposes that social cognitive theory, when viewed as a meta-theory or meta-approach to interest in media violence, may offer an over-arching model to integrate the various perspectives reviewed in the chapter.
Concern about the effects of violent media date back at least as far as the 1920s when the Payne Fund studies investigated the effect of film violence on children (Lowrey & DeFleur, 1995) (Chapter 10, this volume). However, implicit in this concern is the interest in media violence that must surely predate any effects. Obviously, we are not forced to consume media violence; yet, violent television, music videos, films, and videogames continue to be ...