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

 

 

Anger Management Tip: 4 ways to stop ruminating

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ACS SurveyRuminating is the tendency to go over and over an angering event in your mind.  We think about what we could have said, should have said, etc. Though ruminating isn’t all bad (it helps us process negative events to make sense of them), it’s not particularly good for us and it is important to find ways to keep it under control. Here are four strategies to stop ruminating.

  1. Engage in activities that foster positive thoughts (e.g., exercise, a hobby).
  2. Problem solve by coming up with one concrete thing you can do to address the angering situation.
  3. Think less about the event and more about the core feeling that might be driving the anger (e.g., are you feeling angry because you are hurt, sad, scared, etc.).
  4. Practice mindfulness.

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

 

Debunking Pro-Gun Arguments: “I Just Feel Safer With a Gun”

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There are various versions of this one (e.g., “I need to be able to protect my family,” “It’s dangerous to be a single woman without a gun”) but they all boil down to this:

Having a gun makes you safer.

Ultimately, though, it’s the easiest claim to take down because, quite simply, having a gun doesn’t make you any safer.  In fact, in most ways, having a gun makes you less safe.

And here’s how we know.

As it turns out, there’s a big difference between feeling safe and being safe.  For instance, most people feel safer in a car than in a plane but, as I’m sure you all know, you’re way more likely to get hurt riding around in a car than flying in plane.

The same thing is true with owning and carrying around a gun.  You may feel safer, but you are actually way more likely to get hurt or killed with it than without it (and so is anyone who spends time with you).

Here are three reasons why:

  1. Having a gun makes you (and those, particularly children, around you) more likely to die as the result of a gun-related accident.  States with more guns see more accidental gun deaths.  This is particularly true when it comes to the safety of children, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics says, “the absence of guns from children’s homes and communities is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents.”
  2. You’re also more likely to kill yourself intentionally if you have a gun.  This 2014 study meta-analysis (which means it’s a study that looks at many already published studies) found that access to guns was a substantial risk-factor for suicide.  Their conclusion was that “access to firearms is associated with risk for completed suicide.”
  3. In the very unlikely circumstance (less than 1%) that you find yourself in a situation where you are the victim of an attack and need to defend yourself, a gun offers no safety advantage.  According to a 2014 study, your chances of being injured in that attack are approximately 11% whether you have a gun or not.  That same study points to running away, hiding, or calling the police as the options least likely to result in injury.

This is the point when most gun-enthusiasts point to the need for gun training and safety measures.

Fine, lets talk about training and safety measures.

First, there’s almost no research on the topic, probably because the National Rifle Association (NRA) has successfully prevented the Center for Disease Control (CDC) from doing research related to guns.

The data we have provides some evidence to suggest that safety training will lead to a decrease in accidents, but that is it.  No evidence to support the idea training leads to a decrease in suicide (we wouldn’t expect it to) or an increased likelihood of defending oneself with a gun.

The really tragic part of this story, though, is the research we have says we could cut down on accidental gun death by simply implementing mandatory training requirements across the nationA few states, less than ten, have those requirements already.  Not surprisingly, though, the NRA is opposed to such mandates.

By Ryan C. Martin

Click here to see more pro-gun arguments get debunked.

Metal Music Makes You Angrier, Right?

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shinyhappymainhjaker.jpgMost of us are familiar with the claim that listening to extreme metal music makes listeners angrier and potentially more aggressive, but how much credibility does this claim actually have?  This idea is exactly what Leah Sharman and Dr. Genevieve Dingle aimed to investigate in their recent study on extreme metal music and anger processing.  Surprisingly, their research found evidence suggesting that extreme metal music may in fact have the exact opposite effect on listeners.

Their study, published in the Journal of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, defined extreme metal music as “characterized by chaotic, loud, heavy, and powerful sounds, with emotional vocals, often containing lyrical themes of anxiety, depression, social isolation and loneliness.”  Sharman and Dingle used 39 participants who reported listening to extreme metal music at least 50% of the time. They placed the participants in either the extreme metal music group or the control.  Both groups were given an interview to elicit anger and were then asked to either listen to extreme metal music of their choosing for 10 minutes, or to sit in silence for 10 minutes. During the experiment, participants were asked questions about how they felt at that exact moment and were also asked to rate 10 emotional words. Participants were asked to answer these questions before the anger induction interview, after the anger induction interview, and lastly after they were either promoted to listen to their own music for 10 minutes or to sit in silence for 10 minutes.  Simultaneously, participants were also hooked up to a monitor that tracked their heart rate during the study.

The results showed that contrary to the belief that extreme metal music elicits anger, those who listened to extreme metal music showed decreases in hostility and irritability that were equivalent to the decreases seen in control group. The results also showed that listening to this type of music increased relaxation (which initially decreased during the anger induction). This study provides evidence that listening to extreme metal music is as effective at relaxing participants as sitting in silence, refuting the notion that extreme metal music causes anger.

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.

Anger Management Tip: Yoga

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YogaRelaxation has been long-known as a treatment approach for anger problems.  Muscle relaxation, meditation, deep-breathing, etc. are part of almost any standardized treatment approach.  One particular type of relaxation (though, it’s much more than that) is yoga, which includes all the important treatment components of relaxation.

For some specifics, take a look at this 2013 Huffpost article: Yoga For Anger: 3 Moves to Help You Calm Down