AGGRESSION research lab

Unlike most of the other X-SIG labs, this summer we (Dr. Barlett’s Aggression Research Lab, or ARL) have been analyzing data on a variety of different projects that were collected prior to the start of the summer. The research conducted by the ARL investigates aggression in a variety of forms. This summer we focused on cyberbullying, global homicide rates, and aggression in response to provocation in a laboratory setting. Findings from cyberbullying and global homicide rate studies will be briefly explained below.

Cyberbullying has become increasingly prevalent in society today, and thus understanding why it occurs and ways to prevent it is of upmost importance. The set of data that we analyzed first was from a longitudinal study that Dr. Barlett conducted over the past academic year. This study investigated the effectiveness of a cyberbullying intervention targeting anomyn – anonynmit –

anonymity. Anonymity was the target of the intervention because it is one of the tenants of the Barlett Gentile Cyberbullying Model (BGCM). The BGCM is a learning based model that aims to explain the formation of cyberbullying behaviors. The BGCM posits that anonymity and the belief in the irrelevance of muscularity in online bullying (BI-MOB) correlate to predict cyberbullying attitudes, which then predict cyberbullying behavior (Barlett & Gentile, 2012). Thus, targeting anonymity, should decrease cyberbullying attitudes and ultimately cyberbullying behavior. The results showed that intervention decreased individuals’ perceptions of anonymity, thus reducing favorable attitudes towards cyberbullying. YAY- it worked! Go science! After our data analysis, we wrote up a journal article and submitted it for publication! (Fingers crossed it gets accepted).

We also tried to expand upon the BGCM in another study we analyzed this summer. Using Amazon MechanicalTurk (the best thing since sliced bread) we were able to collect a lot of data very quickly. We added age, time spent online, perceptions of technology access, and perceptions of cyberbullying laws to the BGCM. This study was only conducted in the United States but in the future we are planning on extending it to other countries as well to see cross-cultural differences (or similarities) in these factors as they relate to the BGCM. We were successful in our attempt to extend the BGCM. For further details, check out the study when it gets published (date TBD).

Another project we are working on is a meta analysis of cyberbullying perpetration over time. Some studies we use have aimed to create new interventions, while others have tested the efficacy and legitimacy of classroom programs. Our meta analysis weeds out the extraneous foci of each project to obtain a general stability coefficient of cyberbullying over time. By collecting results from the many studies which have recorded cyberbullying, our project aims to get a general statistic of how stable cyberbullying is over time. We are going to spend next week analyzing and writing up these results.

Contrary to what you may now believe, not all aggression happens online. In addition to cyberbullying, we have looked at the effects that temperatures have on aggression.  This research has traditionally been focused on the aptly named heat hypothesis, which states that as temperatures increase, so do levels of aggression.  This has been verified in laboratory studies, correlational evidence in United States cities, and, in work that one of us finds particularly cool, in Major League Baseball games, as more batters are hit when it is hotter than when it is cooler outside, even when controlling for things like pitcher control.

In our work this summer, we extended on previous ARL work that looked at temperature and homicide data from all over the world (all of our data came from the World Bank)!  We extended this by incorporating the Realistic Group Conflict Theory (RGCT) into the relationship between temperature and aggression to see if this could explain this relationship on a larger scale.  The RGCT is quite simple and intuitive:  If there’s a limited number of essential resources (food, water, and such), and a bunch of people need them, then the people will fight over the resources.  Thus, resource shortages -> conflict.  In our analysis, we included data on clean water access, food production, and depth of the food deficit to see how these variables interacted with the temperature and aggression (as measured by homicide rate) relationship.  We found that clean water access mediated the relationship between temperature and aggression – in other words, one reason that the relationship between temperature and aggression exists is because of how temperature affects clean water access.  This is a cool theoretical finding, and could also be valuable in trying to minimize the negative repercussions of global warming.

Somehow the three of us managed to not aggress towards each other, despite the hot temperatures and long hours in a windowless lab!


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