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Normal Violence: The Case of Fighting on a College Campus

Joshua Woods, Karen G. Weiss, & Brent Boyd

This study examines the normalization of violence using the case of fighting on a college campus. Undergraduate participant observers witnessed 150 physical altercations (fights), and gave detailed descriptions of them. They also described their thoughts and feelings as they witnessed the fights. We identified seven distinct reactions to fighting. We then classified these reactions into one of three categories (normal, disturbed and other) and carried out a quantitative analysis. The results revealed the conditions under which some observers reported negative reactions to the fights (disturbed), while others offered non-negative responses (normal).