The Effect of Short-term Exposure to Film Violence on Emotional Facial Processing

Robert T. PalumboLoyola University Chicago
Laura StockdaleLoyola University Chicago
Matthew J. KmiecikLoyola University Chicago
Rebecca L. SiltonLoyola University Chicago
Robert G. MorrisonLoyola University Chicago

Abstract

Exposure to media violence has been associated with decreased empathy and increased aggressive behavior. One possible mediator for this relationship may be emotional face processing; however, little is known about how media violence may influence the neural correlates of emotional face processing. Twenty-six participants were shown violent and nonviolent movie clips during separate testing sessions and then had their brain waves recorded while completing a stop-signal gender discrimination task using happy and fearful faces. Results showed that media violence exposure influences the processing of emotional faces as reflected in the P200 and P250 event-related potentials (ERPs). Inhibitory control was also influenced by media violence exposure as reflected in the P300 ERP. These results indicate that even relatively short-term passive exposure to media violence can modulate the processing of emotional faces offering a possible mechanism by which media violence could modulate empathy and possibly aggression.

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