But what about catharsis? Dollard and his colleagues described catharsis as a two-step sequence. First, aggression reduces the level of physiological arousal. Second, because arousal is reduced, people are less angry and less likely to aggress further. It sounds logical, and many people believe it. But when put to the test, catharsis has not lived up to its advertisement. Most researchers have concluded that the catharsis idea is a myth. Aggressive behavior may sometimes reduce the likelihood of further immediate aggression, but so can just letting the frustration simply dissipate over time. For that matter, a response incompatible with aggression, such as sympathy or humor, can be more effective. In the long run, successful aggression can set the stage for more aggression later.
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