Outline The Issues Psychologists Encounter When Measuring Aggression

1394 words - 6 pages

“Human aggression is any behaviour directed toward another individual that is carried out with the proximate (immediate) intent to cause harm.” (Bushman & Anderson 2001, Baron & Richardson 1994,
Berkowitz 1993, Geen 2001).

Any aggressive act (proximal intent to harm, target motivated to avoid the act) can be characterized along each
of the following dimensions: degree of hostile or agitated affect present; automaticity; degree to
which the primary (ultimate) goal is to harm the victim versus benefit the perpetrator; and degree
to which consequences are considered. Because many aggressive acts involve mixed motivations
or are sensitive to specific consequences, ...view middle of the document...

The commonly used research design for indirect physical aggression is Barnett (1979) in this design aggression is measured by participants being told to subtract between 0 and 9 cents from a confederate whenever he made a mistake, the higher the subtracted figure the higher the aggression level. The alternative to this research design is Cherek (1981) in this procedure the participant is allowed to press on of two buttons, button A accumulates points and B subtracts points, which can be in turn exchanged for money. Provocation is manipulated by subtracting points from the participant.

Direct Verbal Aggression is often by assessed by recording participant’s vocal comments to a confederate and counting the frequency of negative comments and attacks; Wheeler and Caggiula (1966) is a good example of this research design. In this procedure the confederate expressed evaluated opinions on socially sensitive topics and in turn the participants would respond. In comparison Indirect Verbal Aggression is also a research design used; Rohsenow & Bachorowski (1984) is a study used to measure this type of aggression, in this study the participant is given a specific instruction, and is scolded at by an obnoxious confederate, the participant is then told to give feedback for each member of staff. The negative feedback amounts to aggression.

The General Aggression Model (GAM) was designed to integrate existing mini theories of aggression into a whole. Various forms of this model have been used for several years (e.g., Anderson 1997; K.B. Anderson et al. 1998; Anderson et al. 1995, 1996a; Anderson & Dill 2000; Bushman&Anderson 2001; Lindsay&Anderson 2000). This model provides some advantages over smaller domain based theories. It is able to better explain aggressive acts taking into account multiple motives; e.g., both instrumental and affect-based aggression (Bushman & Anderson 2001). It allows for the development of more conclusive interventions, current treatments do not take into account multiple motives and focus on one specific type, hence are not as effective. There is a greater focus into child rearing and issues with child development. This allows for an earlier cure rather than making an intervention at a later stage (Zigler et al. 1992). This model allows for more generalised conclusions to be drawn because it takes into account all the existing mini theories which only allow for specific conclusions to be made.

Most current research is guided by 5 main theories, these theories overlap themselves considerably and this instigated an attempt to integrate them into a broader framework (Anderson et al 1995, 1996a).
The Cognitive Neoassociation Theory (Berkowitz 1989, 1990, 1993) has proposed that aversive events such as frustration, loud noises and uncomfortable environments produce negative effects. Negative affect immediately stimulate various thoughts and psychological responses associated with both fight and flight tendencies. Fight...

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