Anger and Aggression among Filipino Students

Article excerpt

Highly publicized school shootings and other violence, particularly in the United States, have increased public concern regarding student aggression. This has stimulated research on the origins, prevalence, and consequences of antisocial behavior among school-age youths (Dishion & Patterson, 1999; Loeber & Farrington, 2000; Patterson et al., 1998).

Research has determined that anger is an important correlate of student aggression, and that there is a clear link between high levels of anger and problem behavior in school, poor academic performance, peer rejection, and psychosomatic complaints (Smith & Furlong, 1998). Moreover, uncontrolled anger is cited as one of the factors linked to serious school violence (Dwyer, 1998).

Puyat (1999) took a social representation approach to the study of aggression among Filipino college students (fraternity and sorority members). According to Puyat, males appear to have more concrete images of aggression compared to females, who think about aggression in more abstract terms. Puyat also noted that groups constantly exposed to specific instances of violence have more concrete images of aggression.

A survey of Filipino youth in 1996 found high incidences of youth involvement in criminality, illegal drug use, and illicit sex (Sandoval et al., 1996). Furthermore, the involvement of Filipino youth in major public demonstrations and civil actions might be a sign that they are becoming more aggressive. Gang riots often involve students ranging from 14-21 years of age. Further, juvenile delinquency is increasing alarmingly. While it has been established that anger, which results in aggression contributes to juvenile delinquency, the extent and nature of anger experienced in the school setting has yet to be explored in this culture. Despite the dearth of social literature on the subject, it is of great significance. This paper aims to investigate anger experiences and level of aggression of Filipino adolescents in a school setting, particularly in the southern Philippines.

METHOD

Participants

Data were obtained from 650 students (see Table 1) in two public and two private high schools in the capital city of southern Philippines in July and August 2001. Ages ranged from 12 to 17 years. Table 1 which presents the distribution of the respondents shows that most of the factors are fairly evenly represented except for the type of school; respondents from public school constitute a slightly higher percentage.

Instruments

Two personality measures on anger and one checklist were employed for this study.

Multidimensional School Anger Inventory (MSAI). The 36-item MSAI, developed by Smith, Furlong, Laughlin, and Bates (1998), measures multiple aspects of anger for middle school and high school students. This instrument consists of four subscales: Anger Experience, Cynical Attitude, Positive Coping, and Destructive Expression. Reliability and validity of this instrument are high, ranging from .71 to .82.

Aggression Questionnaire (AQ). The 29-item AQ (Buss & Perry, 1992) assesses four components of aggressive behavior: physical and verbal aggression, anger, and hostility. Buss and Perry (1992) defined aggressiveness as a personality trait consisting of four subtraits. They proposed that physical and verbal aggression represent the behavioral component, anger represents the emotional or affective component and hostility represents the cognitive component of aggressive personality. The coefficient alpha for the Aggression Questionnaire was .89 and the test-retest reliability was .80 (Buss & Perry, 1992). The AQ was developed using a college student sample, but may be useful for adolescents (Buss & Perry, 1992).

Teacher Checklist. Teachers completed the 8-item Aggression subscale of the Teacher Checklist (Coie & Dodge, 1988) for each student in his or her class. The checklist was derived from a factor analysis of teacher ratings of a range of classroom behaviors, including aggressive behavior, social withdrawal, social sensitivity, prosocial behavior, and task performance. …