Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology



First Advisor

Albert J. Lott


The psychological literature on hostility catharsis contains two versions which would predict different outcomes of cathartic activity. The most common version of the catharsis hypothesis states that the performance of an aggressive act reduces the instigation to further aggression, assuming that there is no additional frustration. The decrease in frequency of aggressive responses is supposedly due to the reduction of physiological or psychological tension. The revised version of the catharsis hypothesis maintains that anger must be present for the reduction in aggression to occur while the earlier catharsis hypothesis states that any aggressive activity will reduce subsequent aggression.

To test these hypotheses, four groups of juvenile delinquents were tested in four conditions. Two of the groups were Angered, two groups nonangered. One angered group and one nonangered group swam while the other two angered and nonangered groups watched a neutral movie. The angered group which swam showed a significant decrease in anger and tendency to aggression. The method used to arouse anger in the subjects was found to be effective and implications for further research were discussed.



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