Entries in Aggression (5)


'Social Aggression' Plagues Most Kids' Shows, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Children between the ages of 2 and 11 are viewing social aggression on television at rates far greater than what many parents may realize, new research indicates.

In a study published Thursday in the Journal of Communication, researchers aimed to understand the role media plays in children's psychosocial development.  They found that among the 50 most popular television shows for 2 to 11 year olds as ranked by Nielsen Media Research, 92 percent of the programs contained some social aggression, both verbal and non-verbal forms.

"Parents need to be more aware that just because shows do not contain physical aggression, it doesn't mean that there is not anti-social behavior present," said Nicole Martins, assistant professor in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University and lead author of the study.

"I'm not saying that parents can't use the television at all," Martins added, "but it could be a teaching opportunity to emphasize that some of those mean remarks may cause lasting emotional scars."

In total, the research team watched 150 television episodes, three of each show, making note of socially aggressive incidents aimed at damaging social status, self-esteem or both.  Specific behaviors of friendship manipulation, gossiping and mean facial expressions were examined.  They found that such incidents occurred at the rate of 14 times per hour, or one every four minutes.

Furthermore, Martins and her team realized that social aggression was more often committed by an attractive person, presented in a humorous context, and neither punished nor rewarded.  While insults and name calling were the two most common verbal incidents witnessed, giggling and looks of disgust were the two most prevalent non-verbal behaviors.

"Of course, we cannot make firm claims about what types of effects exposure to these portrayals may have on young viewers," the study authors wrote.  That would require further study.

Rahil Briggs, assistant professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and a child development specialist, recommended that young children view television shows with their parents so that they can interpret the acceptability of what is being seen rather than being passive recipients.

"Being able to talk about what you see is a key piece," Briggs said.  "In society, we have become more and more aware of the importance of bullying, and it's going to become increasingly necessary to understand the early building blocks of social aggression that may lead to this."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sudden Aggression in Dogs May be Caused by Pain 

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study says that pain may be the cause of sudden, unexplained aggression in dogs, Health Day reports.

Spanish researchers studied 12 dogs--11 males and one female--who were brought to a veterinary clinic by their owners because of aggression problems. The dogs were a giant schnauzer, Irish setter, pit bull, Dalmatian, two German shepherds, Neapolitan mastiff, Shih Tzu, bobtail, Catalan sheepdog, chow-chow and a Doberman.

The researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona said all of the dogs were diagnosed as having aggression caused by pain, and eight of them had hip dysplasia, a hereditary and degenerative bone disorder that affects the joint connecting the hip and the head of the thigh bone.

The lead researcher of the study said that dogs who had not been aggressive before experiencing pain began to behave aggressively in situations where an attempt is made to control them.

The researchers said the findings of the study suggest that hip dysplasia is a key factor in the risk of large dogs becoming aggressive, according to Health Day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Undergrads' Drinking Patterns May Lead to Continued Abuse 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FORT COLLINS, Co.) -- Heavy college drinking may lead to unhealthy habits down the road, according to new study.

HealthDay reports that the study, due to appear in the January 2012 print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, found that college students who drank heavily may be more likely to continue their habits after graduation if they have high levels of impulsivity and aggression.

The study surveyed 265 female and 96 male undergraduates who completed an anonymous online survey that asked questions regarding their drinking patterns and personality traits.

The study found that 6 percent of the participants met the criteria for having a dependence on alcohol, and about 31 percent fit the criteria for having alcohol abuse problems.

"Many, if not most, undergraduate college students reduce their level of drinking after they graduate from college and are no longer in the environment that led to their drinking," corresponding author Cheryl L. Beseler, a researcher at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Co., said in a journal news release. "However, some young adults continue to drink at levels that increase their risk of an AUD (alcohol-use disorder). We do not yet understand why this occurs, but probably the reasons include genetic and personality factors and interactions between them."

Researchers assessed some potentially relevant aspects of personality and family history to determine which behaviors contribute to heavy drinking in students after graduation.

"Our most interesting finding is that we found two groups of college students who drank at fairly high levels, but one group was more inclined to drink to feel better, more impulsive and more aggressive than the other group, which also drank a lot of alcohol," Beseler said.

The study concluded that students who were more impulsive and aggressive were more likely to continue heavy drinking after they finish school.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Masculinity: Guys Have to Earn Their Status

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There are biological, as well as social, reasons why a man has to prove his manliness, and a woman does not.

A new effort to explain that difference between the genders concludes that the rights of passage for males at least partly explains why men are more aggressive than women.  Manhood, according to psychologists Jennifer K. Bosson and Joseph A. Vandello of the University of South Florida, is a "status that is elusive (it must be earned) and tenuous (it must be demonstrated repeatedly through actions.)"

The Florida researchers are building on the global research of anthropologist David D. Gilmore of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, who found that certain male traits are present in diverse cultures around the world.  A boy does not automatically become a man.  He must earn it against what Gilmore called "powerful odds."

That most likely has an evolutionary basis.  In the old days, before the Internet, males had to earn their status by protecting the hearth, proving they could be good material for mating, and even slaying an occasional beast.  But when he could no longer slay the beast, he would lose that status, showing that manhood is indeed tenuous.

Womanhood, according to Gilmore, is biological but manhood is a "cultural construct."

The need to slay the beast may be less important today, but the Florida researchers show that males still feel the need to prove their manhood, which is not likely to surprise anyone, regardless of gender.  But they take it a step further.  It may not be an altogether bad thing.

Bosson and Vandello describe a series of experiments in a study published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science showing that when a man feels his manhood is threatened he will likely become very aggressive.  But that aggressiveness might also relieve his anxiety.

Like so many studies in this field, all the participants are college students, and not necessarily representative of society as a whole.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Consuming Sugar Makes You Sweeter?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- If someone is as sweet as sugar, it could be that they really are what they eat.

Researchers at Ohio State University contend that sugar might have something to do with making people a little nicer and less likely to become aggressive.

The experiment involved giving subjects lemonade either sweetened with sugar or containing an artificial substitute to simulate a less bitter taste.  Those who consumed the sugared drink seemed to behave less violently toward a stranger in a confrontation set up by the researchers.

There have already been studies on diabetics and aggression.  Interestingly, diabetics tend to act out more aggressively because they experience low levels of glucose, which aids in self-control.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio