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Studies in Conflict & Terrorism


Entertainment media regularly depict torture as effective. Indeed, most popular films contain torture—often outside of counterterrorism-specific plotlines. In the counterterrorism-specific context, watching a scene where torture works increases support for the practice. Yet counterterrorism-specific media is a niche genre, and we do not know if this holds for torture scenes more generally. We address this gap with a 4 (movie rating) x 3 (scene type) experiment with U.S. adults. While participants recognized that torture scenes are in fact torture, viewing these scenes did not impact support for the practice. Findings suggest that media’s influence on views about torture is more nuanced.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism on October 4, 2021, available online:

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.