Does Anonymity Online Increase the Likelihood of Aggression?

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Online-Anonymity-at-Helmword-LtdIn today’s age of advancing technology and countless social media sites, it’s easier than ever to anonymously comment on posts, pictures and videos.  If you’re like me, you’ve seen some very heated conversations in the comments section of Facebook posts. So, what’s the deal here, are people more aggressive when they know they’re virtually anonymous?  This is the question Adam Zimmerman and Gabriel Ybarra (2016) researched in their Journal Article, “Online Aggression: The Influences of Anonymity and Social Modeling.”

Using 124 undergraduate students from the University of North Florida, the researchers had each of the participants do a word-unscrambling task with 2 other people. If they collectively unscrambled half of the words correctly, they each received a prize; at least this is what they were told.  However, unbeknown to the participants, the game was rigged and they were not actually playing along with others, ensuring that the participants always lost.  This was done in order to simulate an online frustrating social situation in which they felt let down by their “partners.” Participants were then able to write on a blog about their experience.  Half of the participants wrote their blogs anonymously and the other half did not. For both these groups, participants were also exposed to either a neutral blog post, or an aggressive blog post.

As you may have guessed, participants who remained anonymous indicated a higher temptation to purposefully aggress toward their alleged partners and they also used more aggressive words in their blog posts about their experience.  Participants, who were exposed to an aggressive blog post prior to writing their own, were also more aggressive, but only in the anonymous condition.

What these results tell us is that people are more likely to be aggressive online if their identity is anonymous.  Not only that, but if they’re exposed to aggressive posts and their identity is anonymous, they’re even more likely to be aggressive online. We can take these results and use them to influence our own online behavior.  Since we’ve seen that people are more likely to be aggressive online if they know their identity remains anonymous, we can analyze our own behavior as to what’s appropriate to say online. We should make it a point not to use anonymity as an excuse to act more aggressively than we normally would.  Not to mention, if anonymous online users are more likely to act aggressively if they see others doing so, our online aggression could also effect how aggressive others are online as well.  To keep online aggression in check, we can consider whether we would act differently if our identity were known, and adjust our comments and behavior accordingly.

By Nermana Turajlic
Nermana is a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development. She plans on graduating in December 2016 and attending graduate school the following year.


Zimmerman, A. G., & Ybarra, G. J. (2016). Online aggression: The influences of             anonymity and social modeling. Psychology Of Popular Media Culture, 5(2),             181-193. doi:10.1037/ppm0000038

Fact Check: Is “Hanger” For Real?

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hangerMany, if not all of us, have felt some increased sense of anger when we are hungry (a.k.a. “hangry”).  We hear the term used frequently among friends and now even food commercials use it to help sell their products. However, can someone actually be hangry?

Before we can answer this, we have to understand what food does for us.

It is well known that food is important for the human body and brain to operate efficiently. With a lack a food, we tend to feel the consequences of it. We get stomach aches, headaches, difficulties concentration, and lower energy. Although these are annoying, they are important for informing us that we need food and we need it now. When we are in this state of hunger, many people can get irritated or frustrated quickly.

Why does this state of hunger cause such negative emotions? Well most of it is contributed to the glucose in our body. Glucose is what makes the brain work and helps regulate self-control. In a study done by Dewall and associates (2011), they found that when glucose levels are increased, the likelihood of becoming aggressive decreased. So when we have a lack of food in our bodies, our glucose levels go down, resulting in difficulties controlling emotions and behaviors. This leads us to show our irritation and frustration more easily.

Knowing all this, we can clearly say that yes, someone can be hangry. Even though it is not a true emotion, the term hangry is a perfect way to explain a person’s current state of being hungry and angry at the same time.

So what can you do when you know are in a severe state of being hangry? Well, the cure is quite simple, you just need to eat. By eating, the symptoms of being hangry will go away, and should leave you in a more pleasant state of emotion.

By Annie Jones
Annie is a junior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development, Human Biology, and German. After graduating from UWGB, she plans on attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison for their Genetic Counseling Master’s program.


DeWall, C. N., Deckman, T., Gailliot, M. T., & Bushman, B. J. (2011). Sweetened blood cools hot tempers: Physiological self-control and aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 37(1), 73-80. doi:10.1002/ab.20366

Does Early Alcohol Use Lead to Higher Levels of Anger Later in Adolescence?

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8552231637_824c2c5821_bIn today’s world, underage drinking and violence are significant topics of interest, and there have been multiple studies that have found a link between heavy drinking, anger, and immediate violent behavior following the consumption of alcohol.  In order to evaluate just how much of an impact consuming alcohol during early adolescence has on later adolescence anger, Dr. Michelle Weiner and her colleagues conducted a study to investigate this relationship (Weiner, Pentz, Turner, & Dwyer, 2001).

The data for this study was collected longitudinally from Indianapolis, Indiana for a total of six years as part of a large drug abuse prevention trial (Weiner et. al, 2001). With 1201 participants in all, each participant was asked a series of four anger-related questions, including: “When I have a problem, I get mad at people”, “When I have a problem, I do bad things or cause trouble”, “When I have a problem, I say or do nasty things”, and “I am a hotheaded person”. Additionally, two items within the study asked each participant to report how many alcoholic drinks they had consumed, and how many times they had been drunk in the last 30 days (Weiner et. al, 2001).

Results of this study indicate overall that early adolescence alcohol consumption ultimately increases anger in later adolescence, controlling for gender, age, and socioeconomic status (Weiner et. al, 2001). Alcohol use in the past 30 days among 6th and 7th graders increased the odds of them saying or doing nasty things, being a self-reported hothead, and having a high anger score on the anger scale in grades 10 and 11. As the students grew older, their reports of anger and aggressive behavior only increased. For example, the students that had reported either consumption of alcohol or drunkenness in the past 30 days in grades 6 and 7, were associated with higher anger scores on the anger scale, as well as doing bad things to cause trouble in grades 9 through 12.

By Gracie Kellow
Gracie is a senior at UWGB who plans on graduating in December 2016 as a Psychology major with a mental health emphasis and a minor in Human Development. After graduation, she plans on attending law school.

Midwestern Psychological Association: Student Research

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Two of my honors students (Nermana Turajlic and Chelsea Giles) and three of my research assistants (Gretchen Kleftstad, Alese Nelson, and Annie Jones) presented their work at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference in Chicago on May 5th, 2016.

Here is sample of their work:

Chelsea Giles and Nermana Turajlic: Does Swearing Decrease Anger and Physical Aggression (2016)

Chelsea Giles and Nermana Turajlic: Does Swearing Decrease Anger and Physical Aggression.

IMG_7959Nermana Turajlic and Chelsea Giles: Is There a Discrepancy in the Punishment of Kindergarten Aged Males Based on Race?

IMG_7923Gretchen Kleftstad, Alese Nelson, and Annie Jones: In-the-Moment Anger Experiences

Positive Aspects of Anger

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By Annie Jones
Annie is a junior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development, Human Biology, and German. After graduating from UWGB, she plans on attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison for their Genetic Counseling Master’s program.

Music Matters

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listening-headphonesEveryone knows that music is relevant to mood.  In fact, a previous All the Rage post explored the role of music in inducing anger, with unexpected results. Recent research by Hakvoort, Bogaerts, Thaut, and Spreen (2015) showed that music therapy can actually accelerate the process of behavioral and emotional change.  More specifically, their findings suggested that music therapy, define as “the use of musical intervention grounded in cognitive-behavioral therapy,” had more positive coping skills, were more likely to ask for help, and more likely to accept situations as they are.

These participants also better demonstrated the emotional management skills necessary to be successful in real life angering situations, even preventing violent outbreaks as compared to a control group.  Not only was music therapy shown to improve anger coping strategies, it also increased the patients ability to cope with other areas of their lives.  Finally, the authors argue that one way in which music is valuable is that there is evidence that it stimulates the release of endorphins, which are key chemicals to improving mood.

The authors identify four stages to the music therapy method.  In the first stage, patients make and listen to different types of music.  Next, patients are taught different techniques to reduce tension and are educated regarding the phases of anger.  Third, patients are made aware of the specific situations that illicit anger or aggression.  Finally, patients are coached to apply their personalized coping skills to manage their anger without the assistance of the therapist.

By Chelsea Giles
Chelsea is a senior planning to graduate in May of 2016 with a major in Psychology and minors in Human Development and Spanish. She plans to attend graduate school to earn her Ph.D in Counseling Psychology.

Fact Check: Are Men Really More Aggressive Drivers?

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It’s common knowledge that men tend to have higher auto insurance rates, and part of the reason for this is that  they are thought to be more aggressive drivers. In other words, they are believed to be more likely to do things like…

  • indicate hostility to other drivers,
  • honk their horns at another driver, or even
  • chase other cars

So do men do those things more often than women?

Well in short, yes.

Here’s how we know.

In 2005, Roberts and Indermaur found that men were almost eight times more likely than females to be perpetrators in an act of driving violence. At the same time, though, men were also significantly more likely to have been threatened by another driver while on the road. In fact, they found that one in five males reported being victims of what could be classified as criminal road rage compared to merely one in 14 females. Meanwhile, in a more recent study, Wickens and colleagues found that while both men and women confessed to being perpetrators as far as shouting, swearing, and making rude gestures, men were still more likely to execute such acts.

One of the bigger questions one needs to answer regarding whether or not males are truly more aggressive drivers is: what makes one driver more aggressive than another? Researchers have found that younger drivers, both male and female, tend to be more aggressive than older drivers. Additionally, consistent with these findings, Wickens and colleagues (2012) have also found that males still tend to partake in more aggressive driving than females do, despite their age (as shown below; Wickens, Mann, Stoduto, Butters, Ialomiteanu, & Smart, 2012).

Capture

In addition to aggressive driving and perpetrating acts of violence when driving, males admitted receiving more fines, committing more traffic violations, and being involved in more accidents in the previous five years than females (González-Iglesias, Gómez-Fraguela, & Luengo-Martín, 2012).

Taken together, the data reveals that while both men and women can be aggressive drivers, men are more likely to be aggressive drivers than women.

By Gracie Kellow
Gracie is a senior at UWGB who plans on graduating in December 2016 as a Psychology major with a mental health emphasis and a minor in Human Development. After graduation, she plans on attending law school.


González-Iglesias, B., Gómez-Fraguela, J., & Luengo-Martín, M. &. (2012). Driving anger and traffic violations: Gender differences. Transportation Research, 404-412. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.trf.2012.03.002

Roberts, L., & Indermaur, D. (2005). Boys and road rage: Driving-related violence and aggression in western Australia. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 38, 361-380. http://dx.doi.org/10.1375/acri.38.3.361

Wickens, C., Mann, R., Stoduto, G., Butters, J., Ialomiteanu, A., & Smart, R. (2012). Does gender moderate the relationship between driver aggression and its risk factors? Accident Analysis and Prevention, 45, 10-18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2011.11.013

Is Fighting Among Siblings Harmful?

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1For many families, siblings fighting can be a common occurrence. The phrase “kids will be kids” is often spoken by parents who just believe their kids are just acting the way most kids do. However, could this behavior between siblings be harmful? Neil Tippett and Dieter Wolke set out to investigate this idea in their research study on aggression between siblings and its associations with the home environment and peer bullying.

To conduct this experiment, published in Aggressive Behavior, they used the longitudinal panel survey conducted annually in the United Kingdom. This survey is conducted over a few years and asks one member of the household to complete an interview. Along with this, children between 10 and 15 years-old in these households are asked to complete a questionnaire. The sample included more than 4,000 participants between the ages of 10-15 years-old. They asked questions about siblings fighting with a scale of never too few times every week to rate four different types of fighting which included: physical aggression, stealing, verbal abuse, and teasing. For school bullying they asked six different questions; two questions about if the youth were bullied by their peers, two were modified from the Peer and Friendship Interview and measured physical bullying, and lastly relational bulling. The most prevalent types of fighting where physical, verbal, and teasing.

One of the main findings from this study was that siblings fighting is very common. They found that one third of the children were regularly involved in fighting with one’s sibling. Another finding shows a moderate to strong association between sibling’s fighting and peer bullying. Given some evidence that victimization by siblings was linked to being bullied and for child who did the aggression were more often to bully others at school.

Parenting characteristics were found to have a strong link with siblings fighting. In households with poor relationships and harsh parenting predicted more fighting between siblings. However, the results of the study showed that in houses with positive parenting and good relationships with their children can reduce levels of fighting. These children are also found to be better adjusted at school.

By Annie Jones
Annie is a junior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development, Human Biology, and German. After graduating from UWGB, she plans on attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison for their Genetic Counseling Master’s program.

Tippett, N., & Wolke, D. (2015). Aggression between siblings: Associations with the home environment and peer bullying. Aggressive Behavior, 41, 14-24. doi:10.1002/ab.21557

 

 

Can Hostile Personality Traits Lead to Health Problems?

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In short, yes, but it is more complicated than it seems.

angry driverIt has been long argued that hostility leads to health problems, but to some it seems far-fetched that a personality trait could really be capable of having long term effects on one’s well-being. This article aims to explore the belief that those with hostile personalities are more prone to health problems, especially cardiac related issues.

In their 2004 literature review published in the Journal of Personality, Smith and colleagues found that hostility was not only associated with coronary heart disease, but also with premature mortality.  They defined hostility as “a devaluation of the worth and motives of others, an expectation that others are likely sources of wrong-doing, a relational view of being in opposition toward others, and a desire to inflict harm or see others harmed.’’  Their review found that hostility is not only associated with developing coronary heart disease, but that it also affects the severity of the disease. Research has shown increased recurrent myocardial infractions in women who had higher levels of hostility.  Men with increased levels of hostility, who had already experienced a cardiovascular event, showed risks of cardiovascular death five times higher than those with lower levels of hostility.

Hostility has also been associated with health issues in younger generations. In their 2003 study published in Health Psychology, Räikkönen and colleagues found a correlation between hostility and the risk for metabolic syndrome in children and adolescents. Metabolic syndrome, which they defined as, “having at least two risk factors above the 75th percentile of the distributions of scores for the same age, ethnicity, and gender groups” including BMI and Insulin Resistance was assessed initially and also at a three-year follow up.  Their study found that children who had high levels of hostility were more likely to have metabolic syndrome during their follow-up.  Räikkönen and colleagues outlined the importance of evaluating behavioral risks as a means for early intervention and prevention.

Although there is ample research to support the link between hostility and coronary heart disease, there may be factors aside from hostility that play a role in this link (I told you it was more complicated than it seems). In a 2004 meta-analysis, Smith and colleagues also discussed other potential reasons for the link between hostility and coronary heart disease. They suggested that the correlation could potentially be due to hostile people having a less healthy lifestyle. A third-factor variable, in this case an unhealthy lifestyle, would then be the cause for the link between hostility and coronary heart disease. They also point out that hostility is not the only thing linked to coronary heart disease; depression and lower socio-economic status are linked to the disease as well.

Although not all research supports the link between higher levels of hostility and coronary heart disease, most researchers agree upon the notion that cognitive and behavioral interventions can help to reduce anger and hostility. One specific way to help reduce hostility is to forgive more. Nava Silton and colleagues (2013) found a negative correlation between forgiveness and hostility in their study published in the Journal of Adult Development. That is, when forgiveness increases, hostility decreases. Whatever the method may be, it is important to decrease hostile behavior early in life in order to lessen the likelihood of developing coronary heart disease or other health related problems.

By Nermana Turajlic
Nermana is a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development. She plans on graduating in December 2016 and attending graduate school the following year.

Räikkönen, K., Matthews, K. A., & Salomon, K. (2003). Hostility predicts metabolic syndrome risk factors in children and adolescents. Health Psychology, 22, 279-286.

Silton, N. R., Flannelly, K. J., & Lutjen, L. J. (2013). It pays to forgive! Aging,             forgiveness, hostility, and health. Journal Of Adult Development, 20, 222-231.

Smith, T. W., Glazer, K., Ruiz, J. M., & Gallo, L. C. (2004). Hostility, anger,             aggressiveness, and coronary heart disease: An interpersonal perspective on             personality, emotion, and health. Journal Of Personality, 72, 1217-1270.

Fact Check: Does Alcohol Cause Violence

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I’m sure many of us have been exposed to media’s portrayal of the drunk guy who is all 8552231637_824c2c5821_bmuscle and suddenly becomes overly aggressive after having a few beers.  But how much truth is there to the stereotype of drunk, angry men, or women for that matter?

The truth is, alcohol does not cause aggression.

It is relevant, though, just not necessarily the way you would think.  Back in 1990, Bushman and Cooper researched this and concluded that alcohol does indeed facilitate aggression in individuals who already tend to be aggressive.

This is how it works, according to a 2012 study by Newberry and colleagues.  For people who normally feel aggressive urges when sober, there is a part of the brain that keeps those urges in check.   When in a potentially violent situation, there is an increase in adrenaline throughout the body, which help the individual decide whether to fight or flee.  Anxiety and fear aid in this decision by determining whether or not the individual has a chance to survive the situation, and usually will decide that fleeing is the safer route.  However, alcohol reduces these inhibitions and the anxiety and fear that would normally take part in preventing the fight response, or aggression.

In contrast, for those who are not typically aggressive, being intoxicated does not increase aggression; aggression simply remains stable.  Ultimately, it is attitudes toward drinking and aggression that are important influencers on an individual’s actions when intoxicated.  Subra and colleagues in 2010 explains that societies often justify aggression when intoxicated and say the individual is not responsible for their actions because “everyone knows” that alcohol increases aggression.

These beliefs have become so engrained into the minds of today’s society that even exposure to alcohol-related cues tends to increase both aggressive thoughts and behaviors without any consumption of alcohol.  This finding from Subra and colleagues suggests that it’s not necessarily the alcohol that causes aggression, but the attitudes toward drinking that can facilitate aggression.

It is not only our attitudes toward drinking and violence that facilitates of violence, but the environment in which we choose to drink can also have a significant impact on our actions while intoxicated.  According to the 2012 Newberry and colleagues study mentioned earlier, temperature, noise, and population density may be contributing factors to aggression.

In summary, there are many different factors that are likely to contribute to aggression when one is under the influence of alcohol.  To say that alcohol causes aggression is not the complete story.  The environment and the people present can contribute to aggression just as genetic factors might.  Furthermore, society’s perception of alcohol-induced aggression plays a large role in actions of an individual while intoxicated or even in the presence of alcohol.

By Chelsea Giles
Chelsea is a senior planning to graduate in May of 2016 with a major in Psychology and minors in Human Development and Spanish. She plans to attend graduate school to earn her Ph.D in Counseling Psychology.

References

Bushman, B. J., & Cooper, H. M. (1990). Effects of alcohol on human aggression: An integrative research review. Psychological Bulletin, 107(3), 341-354.

Newberry, M., Williams, N., & Caulfield, L. (2012). Female alcohol consumption, motivations for aggression and aggressive incidents in licensed premises. Addictive Behaviors, 1884-1851. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2012.08.009

Subra, B., Muller, D., Bègue, L., Bushman, B. J., & Delmas, F. (2010). Automatic effects of alcohol and aggressive cues on aggressive thoughts and behaviors. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(8), 1052-1057. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146167210374725