Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Alan R. King

Abstract

Recent literature has identified a subtype of anxious people who appear to be at risk for aggression as opposed to inhibited and withdrawn as might be otherwise predicted among anxious individuals. While physical aggression is not typically associated with anxiousness, the current study examined the effect of both state and trait anxiety and other development factors on laboratory-provoked aggression in males. Participants (N = 56) were randomly assigned to anxiety induction and control groups. An attempt was made to induce anxiety using a videotaped speech procedure. Several self-report measures were completed to gather developmental information such as history of aggressiveness, childhood abuse, exposure to domestic violence, executive functioning skills, and trait aggression. State anxiety was measured using heart rate and self-report measures, and aggressiveness was measured using the Taylor Aggression Paradigm (TAP), which required participants to compete and administer shock to a fictitious opponent. Consistent with hypotheses, increased provocation was successful in increasing the level of shock participants administered to fictitious opponents in a reaction time competitive task. State and Trait Anxiety were not found to have a significant impact on the level of aggressiveness observed in the laboratory experiment. Executive functioning, history of violent experiences, and trait aggression were not found to effect the aggressiveness of these laboratory participants. Implications for the impact of provocation and a range of personal attributes on aggressiveness were discussed.

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