The Cultural-Psychological Foundations for Violence and Nonviolence. An Empirical Study

Nicole Capezza


The objective for this project is to examine how people think and make decisions about using violence. What are the factors and reasons that lead people to be able to pull the trigger? Differently from most existing literature on the topic of violence that looks for its causes after a violent act has happened, this research project was devoted to the study of psychological processes that lead to such acts. I used a quasi-experimental setting involving different images projected onto a screen in front of the subject. Each subject was asked to assess and make decisions about "shooting" the projected image. An immediate follow-up questionnaire was also used in the procedure to obtain data on each research participants' experience with violent movies and video games. Subjects (N=30 from Worcester, MA and N=40 from Tallinn, Estonia) used their own personal cultures to construct meanings about the image leading to the decision to shoot or not. The main focus of this paper involves the influence of video games and the willingness of a subject to shoot. An image from the video game Duck Hunt was compared to two other images involving ducks. Most subjects from the United States chose to shoot at the video game duck, but not at the other duck images suggesting that the video game framework provides a foundation for a subject to act aggressively toward an image. Many subjects from Estonia did not recognize the video game duck, and thus much less shooting occurred.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs030281


video games; violent movies; microgenesis; decision-making; cross-cultural comparison of violent media

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Copyright (c) 2003 Nicole Capezza

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