Friday, June 29, 2007

Put down that beer, let's go to the movies 

Tim Harford points out a benefit of violent movies:

This argument [of a link between movie violence and violent crime -- kb] assumes that the effect of a violent film is to provoke more violence. That is not clear. I understand that when people watch violent images in laboratory experiments, they become more violent...

But what you are not considering is this: when the local bully-boys are in the cinema watching UltraDeath III: the Revenge, they are not drinking lager or getting into fights. A new piece of research from economists Gordon Dahl and Stefano DellaVigna shows that when a violent film is on at the multiplex, violent crime falls during the evening and stays lower until the next morning. If a slushy romance is screened, the thugs go to the pub instead and mayhem ensues. Dahl and DellaVigna reckon violent films prevent 175 assaults a day in the US.

Here's the research.