Todd Sechser–Violence, Gender, and Pro-Social Behavior: Evidence from the Laboratory

Todd SechserWednesday, April 19
Nau Hall, Room 342


How does wartime violence shape post-war social cohesion?  Existing research offers mixed answers.  Some field experiments suggest that individuals who have witnessed political violence in the past are more likely to engage in pro-social behavior.  By contrast, research in psychology has found that witnessing violence leads to aggressive and hostile behavior.  We suggest that the conditional effects of gender can help explain these divergent findings. Specifically, men tend to react aggressively to images of violence, while women respond more empathetically.  We conduct a series of four laboratory experiments that lend tentative support to this view.