Aggression Rituals

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Communication Monographs


This paper characterizes patterns of aggression as culturally sanctioned forms of relationship governed by recognizable rules and voluntarily selected. In a study employing two scenes of physical violence, one depicting a domestic encounter and the other a relationship between male friends, respondents were asked to predict, advise, and evaluate the characters' actions. Results indicate that although uninvolved, respondents expect, advise, and condone the escalation of aggression to the point of physical violence—both for married couples and male friends. Respondents do recognize the possibility in the domestic context for one or the other partner to voluntarily terminate the aggression; however, among male friends virtually the only possibility for termination appears to result from outside intervention.

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