Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Adolescents' Online Anger and Aggressive Behavior: Moderating Effect of Seeking Social Support

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Adolescents' Online Anger and Aggressive Behavior: Moderating Effect of Seeking Social Support

Article excerpt

Individuals spread anger faster and more widely online than they do in real life, and they are more likely to lack emotional control and exhibit irrational behaviors (Turel & Qahri-Saremi, 2018). Many adolescents impulsively engage in aggressive behavior when their anger is aroused in daily life (Wilkowski & Robinson, 2008), especially online where individuals have almost total freedom of speech and their actions are concealed by the nature of the Web. Therefore, researchers have been studying the prevalence and social effects of online anger in adolescents (e.g., Novin, Bos, Stevenson, & Rieffe, 2018; Thornberg & Jungert, 2014). Adolescents are predisposed to engage in aggressive behavior when they experience anger because they tend to be more sensitive and have greater emotional instability than do adults (Niedenthal & Brauer, 2012). It may be that emotional information spreads faster in cyberspace than in the real world, and that emotions become amplified, because bystanders tend to be complacent and do not give the desired response, leading to individuals who are experiencing anger easily becoming aggressive. It should be noted, however, that the relationship between anger and online aggression can be bidirectional. That is, aggressive individuals may also be more likely to become angry due to a multitude of factors, such as hostile attribution and environmental risks (Orobio De Castro, Veerman, Koops, Bosch, & Monshouwer, 2002). Anger refers to a tendency to be irritable; it is not simply an emotional state, but a personality trait by which individuals evaluate emotional situations in an angry way (Ramirez & Andreu, 2006). Researchers have shown that anger is related to increased interpersonal aggression (Srivastava & Singh, 2015). On one hand, emotional information associated with anger biases a person toward engaging in aggressive behavior; that is, people who prefer to deal with social information in an angry way are more likely to exhibit aggression (Bandura, 1977). On the other hand, adolescents lack the ability to regulate anger consistently because they are still undergoing psychosocial and physiological development (Silk, Steinberg, & Morris, 2003). Nonetheless, young people can use appropriate strategies to regulate their interpersonal emotional expressions and to manage their anger. For example, seeking social support and appropriately expressing one's feelings are effective strategies recommended by health psychologists (Gross, 2001).

Cyber aggression among adolescents has emerged as a significant problem that can interfere with adolescents' social development (Wegge, Vandebosch, Eggermont, & Walrave, 2014). Grigg (2010) defined cyber aggression as any behavior that psychologically injures another person or other persons, and that the victim(s) desire(s) to prevent from happening, which is enacted through the application of computer technology. Researchers have acknowledged that cyber aggression is an important form of dysfunctional behavior at the societal level; it includes sending aggressive messages and rejecting, excluding, ignoring, and denying requests for harmony (Wright et al., 2015). There have been many studies on cyber aggression from the perspective of proactive aggression but few on reactive aggression. Reactive aggression is a defensive response to provocation or trouble that is used by victims (Salmivalli & Nieminen, 2002). Based on self-control theory, when victims perceive loss of control over their surroundings, they experience psychological problems, such as social withdrawal, emotional disorders, and low life satisfaction. Individuals who experience negative emotions are prone to make inadequate behavioral responses, such as aggression (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1994). Therefore, when victims have incremental negative experiences, they should endeavor to exert control over their social circumstances and decrease their feelings of aggression through emotion regulation strategies (Muraven & Baumeister, 2000). …

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