Throughout history aggression has been predominantly viewed as a behaviour expressed more in men than women, however over the last two centuries we have seen the public rise of aggression in women; wives are close to equality with husbands in the United States when it comes to nonlethal violence in the family (Maurer, 1973) – highlighting the fact that ‘aggression’ is not purely male dominated, as may be generally accepted. Aggression, in terms of psychology, doesn’t have one universally accepted definition. Bandura (1973) defined aggression as “Behaviour that results in personal injury or destruction of property”, this covers our basic understanding of aggression, however newer, more modern definitions, such as: Anderson and Huesmann (2003) “Behaviour directed towards another individual carried out with the proximate (immediate) intent to cause harm”, are much more specific in terms of the behaviour that is associated with aggression – this makes it easier to measure and therefore research. For the purpose of this essay, especially the second study, I will be using Baron and Richardson’s (1994) (As cited in Hogg, M. A., & Vaughan, G. M., 2014) definition “Behaviour that is intended to harm another individual who does not wish to be harmed”, this definition is widely accepted by social psychologists due to the inclusion of the perception of intent which rules out inadvertent behaviours which could otherwise skew results, such as a football player accidentally breaking another player’s leg whilst tackling them – the absence of intent rules the behaviour to be ‘non-aggressive’, this will make identifying behaviours a much less complicated process. Aggression is stereotypically thought of as being purely physical, most of the opinions about gender differences in aggression are rooted in this misjudgment. Research shows, males are more physically aggressive than females, however females have been found to be much more indirectly aggressive than males (Card et al. 2008). Card’s research highlights the alternate outlets of aggression other than physical, as well as putting forward his own evidence to the claim. Further research has shown women to be more prominent child abusers than men (Gelles, 1973), this heinous criminality completely contradicts the claim made in such a bold way that questions must be raised about it. Personality has long been linked to the nature of aggression within people, men are said to be “short-tempered” – a concept with its roots embedded in personality. The most widely accepted model of personality: The Five Factor Model of personality (Costa, McMcrae, 1985) has been shown to explain 30-60% of the variance in anger, this variance has been particularly related to high neuroticism and low agreeableness (Ruiz, Smith and Rhodewalt, 2001). Furthermore, lots of research has found higher levels of neuroticism in delinquents compared to non-delinquent groups (Laak et al., 2003). On a situational level, aggression has been linked to frustration cues, heat, crowding and anonymity. The Frustration-Aggression model, first proposed by Dollard (1939), says frustration is a direct cause of aggression and a very common one at that, suggesting extrinsic prompts are the source a person aggression. Furthermore, Harries and Stadler (1983) found an inverted-u shaped relationship between aggravated assault and ambient temperature and humidity in Dallas, highlighting the relationship between aggression and environmental influences. The investigation will take place across personal and situational dimensions to be able to meticulously compare the results and see if there exists a cause and effect relationship between these factors, focusing on the differences between the genders.The first step in studying aggression on a personal level is to sample participants. I will do this by posting sign-up sheets within the student union of the University of East Anglia (UEA), as well as creating an online version which will be posted on the UEA Facebook group, to increase exposure. Students will be used as the student population is very diverse, consisting of a multitude of personalities. From the volunteer sample a further random sample will be taken of both the male and female groups, aiming for 200-300 participants of each gender. The age of the participants is not an important a factor compared to gender, although the mean age will most likely be anywhere between 18-20 years old due to the use of students. The study will use an experimental design to look at the relationship between individual differences and aggressiveness. Neuroticism and Extroversion will be the focal point of the research. An independent measures approach will be used, each participant will be asked to fill out one copy of each questionnaire. As this study will be more of a correlational analysis, independent variables are not used, only dependent variables– personality traits and aggressiveness. The experimental hypothesis of the study: there will be a significant relationship between the average aggression score, calculated from both self and peer questionnaires, and high levels of Extroversion and Neuroticism. In terms of procedure, general demographics will be taken from each participant, such as age, gender and ethnicity, so we could further analyse and look at relationships with other factors. The NEO PI-R (NEO personality inventory – revised) will be used to measure personality. This is a personality inventory that analyses a person’s Big Five personality traits, it has 60 items assessing OCEAN (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism), furthermore, it also reports on six sub-categories of each Big Five personality trait. As for aggression, this will be measured via the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire (BPAQ). It is comprised of 29 items, subdivided in four factors: Physical aggression (9 items), Verbal aggression (5 items), Anger (8 items) and Hostility (8 items). Each participant will be required to select a ‘close’ peer (close peers can be parents, siblings or partners of over one year) to fill out the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire from their perspective for means of comparison and elimination of any self-bias that can be found in self-report data. Each questionnaire will then be analysed and the results for each category in the questionnaires will be placed on a scatter graph, having the levels of each personality traits and aggression categories on opposite axis – this will allow for visual comparison of the data. This side by side comparison will take place for each participant and then an overall scatter plot will be made to represent the complete set of results from each gender. Each plot on the scatter graph will be an ‘average’ of the results collected from every participant of each gender. The relationship between personality traits and aggression will then be compared by gender so that ‘Men are more aggressive than females’ can be tested on this personal level.My underlying attraction to the power of questionnaires and their data collection ability has been showcased within my method. The use of both the NEO PI-R and the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire was a choice made on positive reviews about the functionality of them both. Questionnaires offer a quick way of collecting data, this, of course, is a great benefit as it means more time can be spent analysing the data of said questionnaire. This means more accurate conclusions can be drawn from the data in less time than a conventional experiment would take. Furthermore, the standardised nature of questionnaires means that the data is organised and sorted in such a way that the analysis can start as soon as the questionnaire is collected from the participants, decreasing the time that the study takes up. The self-report method has, rightfully, been criticised for its lack of control over the participants’ responses. This means that the participants could submit false data on their questionnaire, which can drastically affect the conclusions made. The main contributor to this fact-lacking approach is the ‘social desirability’ effect, a phenomenon that is based on people wanting to ‘fit in’ and their answers be accepted by their society. In the case of this study participants could alter their responses to the Buss-Perry Aggression questionnaire so that they seem to be less aggressive. Although this questionnaire doesn’t ask for any identifying details, e.g. name, unconsciously people may want to stray from fact so that they intrinsically feel better about their behaviours, this, however, does mean the results gathered are of much less validity. To combat this a peer version of the Buss-Perry Aggression questionnaire was also handed out so that two aggression scores can be compared, allowing me to decide whether a participant had tainted their answers. To improve the face validity of the test and truly measure if men are more aggressive than women this study would have to adapt and include separate groups, by this I mean each group would have extraneous variables strictly controlled – same age, ethnicity, gender. This would be done for both male and female groups, by doing this and then comparing the ‘average’ scatter plots of each group the claim can be more accurately tested as we can be sure that the only variable varying is gender. Therefore, the results would more precisely be able to tell us if men are more aggressive than women on a personal level. Due to this research employers could target people who have specific personality traits that do not correlate to aggression, this could cause workplaces to become less hostile, which correlates to a better workplace environment – a positive for the company. The company would also be more approachable on a personal level as people could be assured that they only employ ‘non-aggressive’ applicants. If men are shown to be more aggressive then a company who deals with lots of its customers face to face may prefer to employ more women as they will be innately less aggressive.On a situational level aggression can be caused by external stimuli, such as environmental frustrations, crowding and even heat has been shown to cause or increase aggression in some way. I will be utilising the frustration-aggression model in this study to attempt to raise aggression levels in men and women. To start with the procedure will take place in a public place, in this case, the square within UEA. Due to the nature of the study opportunity sampling will be used to enlist participants, recruiting the first or closest students to me in the square at the time. Over the course of around a week, I hope to recruit around 400 participants, aiming for a 50/50 split between genders. In terms of the other demographics (age, ethnicity) of the sample, they will be collected but not controlled – for example, most participants will be between 18-20 but some may be mature students of older ages, this will not prevent them from participating. I hypothesise that there will be a significant difference between the gender of the participant and the hot sauce (measured by Scoville level) given to the confederate after the water spillage.Students walking through the square will be approached and asked if they could spare a few minutes to take part in a ‘hot sauce’ trial. I will then escort them over to a room with some other participants, who in fact are confederates, just off the square. The ‘real’ participant will be seated next to a table with all types of spicy sauce, spoons and especially an open bottle of water. After being seated for a few moments one of the confederates will walk past and ‘accidentally’ knock the table as they do, proceeding to go out of the room, which will cause the open bottle of water (500ml) to empty out over the participants’ legs and shoes, this is the ‘frustration’ element of the study. I will then come over and offer towels, new socks and even replacement shoes to comfort the participant, as well as stating that the person who knocked the table will be the person who they are choosing a hot sauce for. After this, the participant will be asked to pick a sauce from a list of 10, ranging from not so hot to extremely hot (indicated by Scoville level), and the volume of the sauce (measured via drops of sauce) put on the spoon to start with – this can increase up to a maximum of 10 drops. A special ‘extra’ hot sauce that is potentially ‘too hot for the other participant’ will be offered to the participant, if chosen this will be an indicator of a high level of aggression. All hot sauces used will be of the same, very little Scoville level of 10,000 but just packaged as hotter. This allows me to measure the aggression of the participant in a much more ethical way than looking at verbal/physical aggression. Once all the measurements have been made (i.e. Type of hot sauce and volume, gender, age, ethnicity) the participant will be taken to another standard study room and fully debriefed about the experiment, this also allows the Confederate and participant to exchange words and show that the hot sauce actually did not harm them. Shoes and socks will be offered once again before ending the experiment.The use of confederates in the study allows manipulation of the participant’s behaviour without them knowing they are actually being manipulated, this increases the internal validity of the study as their reaction to the stimulus is one hundred percent natural. Furthermore, the use of water spillage as the frustrating stimulus is spontaneous enough to provoke the participant but also seemingly harmless. Using Hot sauce as a measure of aggression makes the study a lot more ethically viable as it avoids any physical aggression, which could cause unnecessary harm. It also provides a straightforward way of actually measuring the level of aggression via the Scoville level and volume of hot sauce given, aggression can often be a tricky behaviour to measure by observation it can be very subjective. Ethically speaking the use of the water spillage could cause unintended damage to expensive shoes or trousers, this, of course, is not very likely however the majority of people may not take having wet socks well. Therefore, even though the aim of the water spillage is achieved it may cause unwanted confrontation – which could cause there to be questions about the ethical considerations of the study. Reactive aggression, of both genders, will be highlighted in the experiment, the results may prove useful to certain jobs, such as hospitality, as customer complaints are a frequent source of frustration for employees. The results from this study will give empirical data on which gender tends to react better to a frustrating stimulus, providing evidence for further studies to build on and consider other factors that affect reactive aggression.


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