Stubbs, J. E., Nicklin, L. L., Wilsdon, L., & Lloyd, J. (2022). Investigating the experience of viewing extreme real-world violence online: Naturalistic evidence from an online discussion forum. New Media & Society, 0(0).
Open access: No
Notes: This paper discusses how exposure to media violence, while having adverse psychological outcomes, can also be a moral motivator. They found five responses to extreme real-world violence: 1) distress, 2) needing time and self-care, 3) more appreciation of their life, 4) desensitized, or 5) indifferent.
Full abstract: This study investigates the psychological impact of viewing user-generated content depicting extreme real-world violence. Eight threads were harvested from a publicly accessible online discussion forum in which people discussed their experiences of witnessing real-world torture, maiming or death online. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to systematically analyse these threads. The themes capture the contradictory ways in which people react to viewing extreme real-world violence online, with some finding it intensely distressing and others using it as a resource for psychological grounding or (perceived) strengthening. Based on this analysis, we highlight pathways that may lead to the cessation or continuation of viewing such content and argue that greater research on this seemingly common but under-studied experience is warranted.