Oct 18 2019

PSYCHOLOGY ALUM SPEAKER SERIES: Dr. Rowell Huesmann – The Contagion of Violence

October 18, 2019

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Dr. Huesmann


1076 Behavioral Sciences Building


1007 W. Harrison Street, Chicago, IL 60607

Dr. Huesmann is the Amos Tversky Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Communication Studies and Director, Aggression Research Program, Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan

Violence is a contagious disease. As with other contagious diseases, if people are exposed to violence, their own risk of
behaving violently increases. Yet, unlike most contagious diseases, a person does not need to be very close to the violence in
order to be infected with it. One can catch it at a distance. The infecting exposure can be an exposure to violence right in front
of the person or it can be an exposure to distant violence through electronic media. The violence can be real-world violence or
it can be dramatized violence. Furthermore, once a person catches the violence disease, the person becomes an infecting
agent passing the disease to others. This contagion happens because various social cognitions and emotional reactions
underlying violent behavior are automatically acquired from observing violence and subsequently promote violent and
aggressive behavior. In today's talk I elaborate on the observational learning processes that are important for the contagion of
violence. I contend that these processes are as powerful as they are because imitation and observational learning are innate
and automatic in young humans. Then, I provide empirical data in support of the contagion of violence through exposure to
proximal real-world violence and also through exposure to more distal and unreal violence in the electronic media. Finally, I
present some recent empirical data showing how even very specific forms of violence, such as gun violence, can be


Michael Ragozzino

Date posted

Sep 27, 2019

Date updated

Sep 27, 2019