Journal article

Catharsis, aggression, and persuasive influence: self-fulfilling or self-defeating prophecies?

BJ Bushman, RF Baumeister, AD Stack

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | Published : 1999

Abstract

Does media endorsement for catharsis produce a self-fulfilling or a self-defeating prophecy? In Study 1, participants who read a procatharsis message (claiming that aggressive action is a good way to relax and reduce anger) subsequently expressed a greater desire to hit a punching bag than did participants who read an anticatharsis message. In Study 2, participants read the same messages and then actually did hit a punching bag. This exercise was followed by an opportunity to engage in laboratory aggression. Contrary to the catharsis hypothesis and to the self-fulfilling prophecy prediction, people who read the procatharsis message and then hit the punching bag were subsequently more aggress..

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