The spiral of violence: Equity of violent reprisal in professional wrestling and its dispositional and motivational features

Kenneth A. Lachlan, Ron Tamborini, Rene Weber, David Westerman, Paul Skalski, Jeff Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Though lacking empirical evidence, professional wrestling has been criticized for portraying excessive violence in harmful contexts. This study focused on the equity of violent reprisal perpetrated by liked versus disliked protagonists with socially sanctioned or unsanctioned motives. Results of a quantitative content analysis show that most violent interaction sequences were over-retributive. Violence that was not part of match competition was routinely initiated for normatively unsanctioned motives and showed predominant patterns of escalating violent retribution. These patterns held across perpetrator disposition. Thus, liked characters regularly aggressed for normatively unacceptable reasons. The consequences of these portrayals are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-75
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

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