Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The relationship between trait anxiety and physical aggression was investigated. Two additional variables, sex and anger level of the Ss were considered. It was hypothesized that males would express more aggression than females and that angered Ss would be more aggressive than nonangered Ss. No hypotheses were made concerning the relationship between trait anxiety and physical aggression.

Seventy-two undergraduates at the University of North Dakota were selected as Ss. A 3x2x2 factorial design was used with three levels of anxiety and two categories of anger and sex. Six Ss were assigned to each treatment condition. Trait anxiety was defined by scores on the Manifest Anxiety Scale (Taylor, 1953), and Ss were divided into low, medium, and high anxiety groups. Ss were led to believe they were participating with another student (the male confederate) in a learning experiment.

In the first stage of the study half of the Ss were angered by the confederate who administered several shocks to them in evaluation of a task they had completed. Half of the Ss were not angered. Following the anger manipulation, Ss indicated their subjective feelings of anger on a Self Report Mood Scale. In the second stage Ss were instructed to teach their partner (the confederate) a concept using electric shock as punishment. The dependent variable was the mean shock Intensity ostensibly administered to the confederate on each of 31 shock trials.

Angered Ss did not respond more aggressively, on the whole, than nonangered Ss, but they did report feeling significantly more angry. Males were significantly more aggressive than females on the first shock trial. Sex differences were not obtained, however, for shock trials 1-5 or for shock trials 1-31. Trait anxiety, as measured by the MAS, was not shown to be related to the overt expression of physical aggression.