Comunicar 37: The University Network and on the Net

Vol. XIX, n. 37, 2nd semester, October 1 2011
E-ISSN: 1988-3293 / ISSN: 1134-3478

           

The Risk of Emergence of Boomerang Effect in Communication against Violence

https://doi.org/10.3916/C37-2011-03-08

Abstract

Violent behaviors cause concern among people, policy makers, politicians, educators, social workers, parents associations, etc. From different fields and perspectives, measures are taken to try to solve the problem of violence. Institutional communication campaigns against violence and the publication of news related to violent events are often some of the actions used by policy makers. But some of the literature and data have shown that its effectiveness is not always exactly as expected. And even some anti-violence messages, can have the opposite effect and reinforce the attitudes of those who thought that violence is necessary. The hypothesis is that most people assume with no problem the core message of anti-violence campaigns. But, and this is the key issue and most problematic, individuals who are more likely to be violent (precisely those who should address such communications) could react to anti-violence message in a violent way. There is a tragic paradox: the anti-violence message could increase the predisposition to violent behavior. This would be a case of what some literature called boomerang effect. This article highlights the need for detailed empirical studies on certain effects of media (desensitization, imitation, accessibility and reactance), which could help explain the emergence of the boomerang effect.

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