Behavior: Redefining Violence

Webster's definition of violence is clear: the "exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse." But a recent survey by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research suggests that vast numbers of Americans use the word differently.

For the study, the institute used a sampling of 1,374 black and white men chosen to represent the U.S. male population. They were asked whether certain actions are violent in themselves—not merely violence provoking. More than half (57%) decided that the shooting of looters is not a violent act. Nearly a third regarded the beating of students as equally nonviolent. By contrast,...

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