Research on aggression in media has often focused on its influence on later acts by individual viewers. One area that is often not researched is the perception of aggressive acts. Prior research on influences on people’s perceptions have shown that they can be influenced by ingroup bias and differences in personality. These areas of research can be tied together in order to look at the differences in perceptions of aggressive acts and how they are influenced by political ideology and agreeableness. The focus of the present study is to examine how differences in political ideology and agreeableness affect how individuals perceive acts of aggression. Participants in the current study were asked to rate their perceptions of the aggressiveness of officers and protestors in a compilation of Black Lives Matter protest videos. The hypotheses of the study are that those who self-report as liberal will rate the police as more aggressive than the protestors, and vice versa for those who self-report as conservative. Additionally, those with a higher agreeableness score will rate the perceived aggression of the entire situation to be higher. The results of the study showed that political ideology did have an effect on the perceived aggressiveness of the protestors, as well as the perceived justification of both the police and protestors. However, there was no significant correlation between agreeableness and the perceived aggressiveness of the situation. The implications of this study show how social media can target specific political orientations in order to change perceptions.
Keywords: personality, selective perception, political orientation, media
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