Does Aggressive Trait Induce Implicit Aggression among College Students? Priming Effect of Violent Stimuli and Aggressive Words

By Qian, Zhang; Tian, Jing-Jin et al. | International Journal of Psychological Studies, September 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Does Aggressive Trait Induce Implicit Aggression among College Students? Priming Effect of Violent Stimuli and Aggressive Words


Qian, Zhang, Tian, Jing-Jin, Yang, Li, Zhang, Da-Jun, International Journal of Psychological Studies


Abstract

The purpose of the study was to examine the priming effect of exposure to violent pictures on implicit aggression in a sample of 94 Chinese college students, and to verify the validity of General Aggression Model (GAM) and Cognitive New-association Model (CNM). Violent and nonviolent pictures, as well as aggressive and nonaggressive words, were used as primes to explore the relationship between violent stimuli and implicit aggression of college students by employing modified Go-Nogo task. The results suggested that the priming effect of exposure to violent pictures on participants was obvious, and that brief exposure to violent pictures increased implicit aggression. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) found that interaction between stimuli type (violent vs. nonviolent) and target word (aggressive vs. nonaggressive) was significant, implying that violent stimuli primed implicit aggression among college students. Further simple effect analysis showed that implicit aggression was significantly primed by violent stimuli for participants with high aggressiveness (HA) and moderate aggressiveness (MA), but not for participants with low aggressiveness (LA). This result should be cautiously explained that only implicit aggression of college students with HA and MA was significantly primed by violent stimuli.

Keywords: aggressive trait, implicit aggression, college students, violent stimuli, aggressive words

1. Introduction

Research on violence and aggressive behavior was the focus of psychology at home and abroad. The issue concerning effects of violent stimuli on aggression once aroused intensely debates among scholars and general public through the years. Prior researchers mainly defined aggression from three perspectives: cognitive process, explicit emotion and behavioral performance. For instance, Dodge et al. assumed aggression was determined by the cognitive processing in human mind (Coie, Dodge, Terry & Wright, 1991). Allen et al. thought aggression was the explicit expression of anger (Allen & Potkay, 1981). Buss et al. contended aggression was an intentional behavior which caused harm to others, meanwhile the targets attempted to escape (Buss, 1961; Berkowitz & Leonard, 1965; Baron & Richardson, 2004; Anderson & Bushman, 2001; Pan, 2005). More importantly, experts claimed that implicit aggression (e.g., hostile cognition) shaped aggressive responses to society (DeWall, Twenge, Gitter, & Baumeister, 2009; Bushman & Huesmann, 2010). Obviously, aggression could cause psychological and physiological hurt to others, and cognition, personality and emotion may lead to aggressiveness. Based on this, we concluded implicit aggression was a kind of aggression to injure others by violating social norms and standards, including aggressive cognition, thinking and affect.

A few years ago, a great many shooting case was happened worldwide, such as the shooting incidents on campus of Virginia University in the U.S, which brought potential dangers to college students and teachers. Meanwhile, researchers found many youngsters who committed crimes were affected by violent scenes, and thus imitating antisocial behaviors (Haejung & George, 1994). According to GAM, short-term exposure to violent media would activate viewer's aggression, and long-term exposure would affect viewer's aggressive personality (DeWall, Anderson, & Bushman, 2011). Additionally, accumulating evidence indicated prolonged exposure to violent TV programming during childhood was associated with subsequent aggression (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). Experts found exposure to firearm violence approximately doubled the probability that adolescents would perpetrate serious violence over the subsequent 2 years (Bingenheimer, Brennan, & Earls, 2005). Anderson et al. once explored the effects of weapon pictures on college students' hostile cognition, emotion and physiological arousal. The results revealed that weapon pictures impacted aggressive cognition, but not significantly impacted hostile emotion and physiological arousal (Anderson, Anderson, & Deuser, 1996). …

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