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December 10, 1960

PATTERNS OF VIOLENCE

JAMA. 1960;174(15):1970. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03030150058018
Abstract

The fear that present-day television programs "teach bloody instructions" is now proved to be well founded. The evidence comes from a medical source. Until recently the defenders of gangster, western, and horror shows could argue that hitting a person on the head or kicking him in the abdomen was a simple, primitive behavior pattern that could arise spontaneously in untutored people. Many forms of violence come naturally to an enraged and uninhibited man, just as the rising of the neck-feathers comes naturally to a rooster in a barn-yard fight. Because these forms are so universal and nondescript, it would take some pretty fine statistical research to show that their frequency had been increased significantly by the nightly scenes of combat on television.

The need for such research has now been obviated, however, by some striking observations.1 They involve a behavior pattern so complicated and distinctive that even the curiously

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