Research Shows Mass Shootings Can Be ‘Contagious’

The study’s authors argue gaining notoriety can be a major motivation for school shooters.

A new study found the amount of social media attention a mass shooting gets affects the likelihood of another shooting in the days following the attack.

Specifically, the study showed that the more social media activity a shooting generates the more likely it is that a similar incident will occur afterwards.

Media researchers Jennifer Johnston and Andrew Joy of New Mexico State University used past research to conduct their study, which they presented at a meeting of the American Psychological Association.

Their findings on the influence of social media were based primarily on a 2015 study that analyzed 57 billion posts on Twitter, reports ABC News.

The researchers concluded that if at least 10 out of every million tweets mention a school shooting following the attack, the likelihood of another school shooting goes up 50 percent in the eight days after the incident.

The researchers say a quest for notoriety and fame can be a motivation for shooters.

“We would argue identification with prior mass shooters made famous by extensive media coverage, including names, faces, writings, and detailed accounts of their lives and backgrounds, is a more powerful push toward violence than mental health status or even access to guns,” the authors write in the paper.

The researchers suggest that media members refrain from focusing too intently on shooters and withhold certain information.

With mass shootings on the rise, an increasing amount of research has been conducted focusing on the causes for attacks.

Last year, Campus Safety wrote about a similar study that found that media coverage of mass shootings increases the likelihood of similar events in the 13 days following a shooting.

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