One of my best friends at Princeton was Gordon Dahl. He’s the kind of guy who never says anything stronger than “My goodness.” His favorite show, as far as I recall, was “Touched By An Angel.” But now he’s got a paper on the benefits of violent movies. James Hamilton explains:

The authors [Dahl and DellaVigna] note that there is a large clinical literature that has arrived at the opposite (and more natural) conclusion that watching violent scenes can induce more violent behavior. But they argue that one factor left out of those clinical studies is the incapacitation effect– as long as you’re in the theater itself, you’re not mugging somebody. Even after you leave the theater, a pattern for the evening may have been set that involves less alcohol consumption and less likelihood of getting into trouble. The more violent the content of the movie, the authors reason, the more likely it is to bring violent people off the streets and into movie theaters.

Hmm – makes me wonder about the effect of Passion of the Christ.