Reactions of Juvenile Delinquents to “Justified” and “Less Justified” Movie Violence

Leonard Berkowitz, Ross D. Parke, Jacques Philippe Leyens, Stephen G. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In order to determine whether juvenile delinquents would respond to the sight of someone being beaten up the same way as previously studied university students, two-thirds of the in stitutionalized delinquents in the sample watched a brief filmed prize fight after having been insulted or treated in a neutral fashion by the experimenter's confederate. A story summary given to the subjects depicted the defeated movie character as either a callous exploiter of other persons or as a more sym pathetic individual. Immediately after the film the insulted de linquents shown the exploiter being beaten administered stronger electric shocks to the confederate than a no-movie control group and somewhat more than other provoked subjects seeing the sympathetic character being hurt. Like the university students, the delinquents had apparently regarded the exploiter's beating as “justified” aggression; and this interpretation temporarily legitimated their own attacks upon their tormentor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-24
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1974
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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