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How attribution influences aggression : answers to an old question by using an implicit measure of anger


Krieglmeyer, Regina; Wittstadt, Doris; Strack, Fritz


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Abstract The present study investigated how aggressive reactions to frustration are influenced by attributional processes. In particular, we examined how the information that another person did not intend a frustration affects anger and aggression. Previous research was inconclusive if attribution to unintentionality decreases anger and aggressive impulses or if it increases the control of aggressive impulses resulting in a selective decrease of aggressive reactions that are controllable. To test these assumptions, two thirds of participants were frustrated by negative evaluations that were paired with aversive sounds from an ostensible team partner. The remaining participants received positive evaluations that were paired with pleasant sounds. Then, half of the frustrated participants obtained a message suggesting that their partner had confused the response scale and had actually meant to deliver an opposite evaluation. This apologizing information was effective in decreasing subsequent aggressive behavior but not in reducing anger as assessed by an implicit measure. This finding is in line with the notion that attribution to unintentionality leads to control of aggressive impulses. We conclude that such attributions influence aggressive behavior mainly via reflective pathways, while impulsive processes remain largely unaffected.
Klassifikation Sozialpsychologie
Sprache Dokument Englisch
Publikationsjahr 2009
Seitenangabe S. 379-385
Zeitschriftentitel Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45 (2009) 2
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2008.10.003
Status Postprint; begutachtet (peer reviewed)
Lizenz PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)