Lead author Sarah Coyne, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University, and study co-author professor David Nelson of NYU's School of Family Life, analyzed five U.S. television reality shows and five non-reality shows -- 120 hours of programming -- and coded every expression of physical, verbal and relational aggression.
The study, scheduled to be published in the June issue of The Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, find 52 acts of aggression per hour on reality TV programs compared to 33 per hour for the non-reality programs.
"The Apprentice" had 85 acts of verbal or relational aggression per hour -- the most of any of the programs analyzed, followed by Fox's "American Idol" at 57 aggressive acts per hour.
"I knew the level of aggression was going to be high, but I had no idea it was going to be this high," Coyne says in a statement.
Coyne says watching aggression in others, rubs off on viewers as well.