physical aggression, relational aggression, media, media violence, violence, influence, individual behaviour


Purpose - This review aims to examine how aggression is portrayed in the media and how it can influence behavior and attitudes regarding aggression.

Design/methodology/approach - The authors reviewed the relevant literature and examined both physical and relational forms of aggression in multiple media forms (television, film, video games, music, books).

Findings - Across media types, evidence is found that both physical and relational aggression are portrayed frequently and in ways that may contribute to subsequent aggression. Furthermore, though there are studies finding no effect of exposure to media aggression, evidence is found that watching physical and relational aggression in the media can contribute to aggressive behavior. Prominent media aggression theories are reviewed and some of these theories are applied to relational aggression media effects.

Research limitations/implications - Researchers should no longer ignore relational aggression in terms of the media, in terms of content and associations with aggressive behavior. Researchers should also focus on understudied media forms, such as music and books.

Practical implications - Policy makers should take careful note of the research on media and aggression when deciding on public policy and clinicians should inquire about media habits when clients show problematic aggressive behavior (physical or relational).

Originality/value - This paper is a valuable source of information regarding current research on media and aggression. Unlike other reviews, it focuses on multiple types of aggression (physical and relational) and multiple media types (TV, movies, video games, music, and books).

Original Publication Citation

Coyne, S. M., *Stockdale, L., & Nelson, D. A. (2012). Two sides to the same coin: Relational and physical aggression in the media. Journal of Aggression, Conflict, and Peace Research, 4, 186-201.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor