Aggressive Behavior; The Importance of Gender,
 Parenting Styles and Socio-Economic Status
  Carlos Marin
 
 

                                                                         Abstract
     Trying to better understand aggressive behavior, the following study confronted the impact of gender, socioeconomic status, and parenting styles as major contributing factors for this conduct. The hypothesis designed for this research predicted that the parenting styles and socio-economic status to which one is exposed are more important factors than gender in the risk for aggressive comportments. A survey based on previous related research (Lawrence, 2006) was administered to a sample of students (N = 100), which was randomly selected from the population of a small, private, liberal arts university located in the Midwest of the United States. The questionnaire asked participants to convey their level of agreement on a Likert scale from 1 to 5 when provided with a certain hypothetical situation. Subsequently, the answers were analyzed using correlations, ANOVAs, and t-tests. The results, as initially predicted, pointed to parenting styles to be the most significant variable related to the likelihood and frequency of aggressive behavior among the participants. However, the findings did not point at socioeconomic status or gender as major contributing factors for this conduct, as it was initially predicted.


 

     The academic discussion about aggression and aggressive behavior has focused in understanding the essence and causes of this phenomenon. Throughout recent decades, psychologists and social scientists have faced the problem of measuring aggressive actions in a quantifiable, observable manner, and to this end, a vast number of psychometric scales have been designed by various disciplines. Comprehending the true nature of this conduct, however, represents a crucial step to predict, curb, and assess episodes of violence and conflict. These episodes have been known to be characterized by various causal factors, and therefore, their identification and assessment has recently emerged as an important task for the social sciences. To truly understand aggression and aggressive behavior, it is first important to evaluate the contributing factors that may affect the likelihood of aggressive actions, either to a greater or lesser degree. One’s gender, socio-economic status, and parenting styles have been defined to be among the most influential of these instances (Viemero, 1996), and tend to be present not only when aggression occurs, but also during the development of personality since an early age (Bjorkqvist and Osterman, 2008).
     The following study will focus in measuring the varying degrees in which aggression is influenced by gender, parenting styles, and socio-economic status. Important to note is that the previously mentioned causal aspects are not defined as being solely responsible for aggression. The limitations of this study, both in methodology and scope, prevent the procedure to explore how physiological predispositions may play a role in the likelihood of aggressive behavior. In addition, however, it is important to note that the study of this conduct represents a preponderant task for the social sciences. Although prevalent among ecological niches, and also within the natural competition for resources and shelter, aggressive behavior has been traditionally characterized as a maladaptive comportment that results in tragic circumstances. Its prediction, understanding, and assessment results are therefore crucial to prevent the tragic repercussions that result from episodes of aggression, such as crime, property destruction, and death.
     Important is to note that the focus of this study will remain within the limits of the college world, and will only select participants from a small, liberal arts university located in the Mid-West of the United States. Its methodology and results will therefore limit the discussion and application to this, the college environment, a world characterized by complexities and characteristics of its own nature. As a result, the methodology of this research will evaluate how gender, parenting styles, and socio-economic status affect the likelihood of aggressive behavior among a population understood as composed by university students of a college age.
     The first section of this paper is a review of the literature that has focused on the characteristics and causes of aggressive behavior. It will serve as a platform of information to understand the research that has taken place to further the knowledge of this conduct from a psychometric, conceptual, and statistical perspective. In addition, it will also serve as a basic foundation that will be pertinent when explaining the method and results of this research, as well as to discuss its findings.
     When studying aggressive behavior, it becomes crucial to understand the causal factors that may affect the likelihood of this conduct. In an attempt to identify the variables in childhood that may predict both crime and episodes of future aggression, Viemero (1996) explored several important variables that have been found to be linked with a greater risk and probability for these actions. Conducting a longitudinal or follow up study, the researcher interviewed several teenagers throughout a period that ranged from their infancy to their late adolescence. Using a sample 220 young infants, the study surveyed participants who were 7 and 9 years old in 1978 when interviewed for the first time (Viemero, 1996). Four different groups of variables were chosen as possible predictive factors, and were defined as 1) parental aggression, punitivity, and attitudes of rejection toward the child, 2) previous acts of aggression by the subjects, 3) the viewing of violence on television during childhood, and 4) aggressive, indifferent, and delinquent behavior in adolescence. On the other hand, physical aggression in adolescence and the number of arrests and traffic violations in young adulthood were used as the dependent variables to be measured by the study. However, it may be relevant to note that the findings of the study were discussed in a separate way for each for women and for men (Viemero, 1996).
      The analyses established that for men, the single most important predictor of aggression in adolescence was found to be episodes of previous aggression, whereas for women, the single most important predictor of physical and non-physical aggression in adolescence was defined to be previous records of viewing violent shows
(Viemero, 1996). In addition, the number of arrests in young adulthood was best predicted for the male participants on the basis of previous aggression and the exposure of violence on television as well as of other forms of entertainment. The best predictor of the number of arrests in young adulthood for women was found to be parental aggression, punitivity, and attitudes of rejection from both of the parents. In the words of the researcher, “these results emphasize the importance of the atmosphere of socialization during childhood as well as the significance of previous episodes of aggressive behavior as predictors of  aggression in adolescence and of criminal behavior in young adulthood” (Viemero, 1996).

    An increasing body of academic research has recently focused in the importance of parenting styles, as it was described in the previous study. This focus has been utilized by the social sciences to identify the specific instances in which parental interaction derives either in maladaptive or aggressive behavior. Among many others, Bjorkqvist and Osterman (2008) have dedicated and important portion of their research to the exploration of the degree to which parental influence derives children's self-estimated aggressiveness. Measuring parenting styles through the use of inventories, Bjorkqvist and Osterman (2008) sampled one hundred seventy-four adolescents in order to establish the existence of a correlation between this variable and the likelihood of aggressive behavior. The sample was comprised by 85 girls and 89 boys with a mean age of 13.6 years and a standard deviation from the mean of 0.7 years. In addition, the participants were chosen from a suburban school known as prone to problems of aggression. Variables were defined as follows: the dependent variable, aggressive personality, was measured with the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory, cited in the researcher’s review of literature (2008), while the independent variable, parental influence, was measured with scales specifically developed by the researchers. The participants were asked to rate their parental interaction according to 1) the emotional relation to each parent; and 2) their perception of how their parents behave a) with the child b) when angry c) at home and d) with their peers or relatives (Bjorkqvist and Osterman, 2008).
    The findings of the study revealed the existence of a very visible gender related effect associated to parental influence and parental interaction. According to the data, mothers and fathers affected sons and daughters in a different way, given that a LISREL analysis demonstrated that mothers had a clearly stronger impact on sons, while fathers had a slightly stronger effect on daughters. The latter, however, was by no means as significant as the former (
Bjorkqvist and Osterman, 2008). When focusing on paternal interaction, hitting, alcohol abuse, and a negative emotional relationship were found to be strong predictors of aggressiveness and aggressive behavior among daughters. However, aggressive fathers tended in general to get a counter reaction with their sons, with the results shown to derive in a low level of aggression. In the same way, predictors of aggressive behavior on the maternal side were defined to be shouting and a negative emotional relationship. In the case of daughters, the former was a more important predictor than the latter, but in the case of sons, it was the other way around (Bjorkqvist and Osterman, 2008).
     The importance of parenting styles is commonly defined as one of the major contributing factors for aggressive behavior, as it was described by the previous study. However, the social environment of an individual has also gained increasing attention among the social scientists concerned with the causal factors of this comportment. The work of Russell and Hart (2003), for instance, has focused in this specific variable. Trying to gain a greater knowledge of the environmental instances that may derive the development of maladaptive and violent conducts, the researcher compared samples from the US and Australia, and explored how two different environments can exert an influence in the likelihood of aggressive behavior (Russell and Hart, 2003). Along with gender, the social setting of Australia and the United States was defined as an independent or control variable. The research took place under the premise that the United States and Australia are characterized by similar socialization practices, and its methodology asked parents to complete questionnaires on parenting styles and child temperament. To measure the dependent variable, which was defined as the degree of aggression manifested by the children, preschool teachers rated the social behavior of their students according a scale (Russell and Hart, 2003).
       The children native to the United States were rated higher on both the degree and the likelihood of aggression by teachers, and also scored higher on sociability, activity, and level of emotional manifestations by parents (Russell and Hart, 2003). In the same way, girls from the United States were rated as more relationally aggressive than boys, with boys rated higher on physical aggression. Mothers were more authoritative, with fathers more authoritarian in the United States, although the latter was a result debated in the study due to the different definitions of authoritarianism established in the cultural practices of the two countries. In both the United States and Australia, however, parenting consistently predicted child sociability and the likelihood of aggressive behaviors (Russell and Hart, 2003). However, there was no mention made with respect to socioeconomic status, biological predispositions, or other pertinent variables.
     After taking in consideration how parenting styles, biological factors and socio economic status play a role in the likelihood of aggression, it is now important to explore the literature that has focused in the effects of gender, a variable that has been defined to be an influential contributing factor for aggression. With the hypothesis that boy may experience a different emotional retribution when engaging in aggressive behavior,
Benenson and Carter (2008) focused in the role of gender while exploring a new and perhaps surprising side of aggression; the idea that it may act as a source of pleasure. The methodology of the research studied a sample of 335 children, 209 boys, 126 girls, who were found among ages four, five, six and nine year olds. In addition, it predicted that boys tend to obtain a greater degree of gratification or pleasure as a result of, or when engaging in aggressive actions. The participants were asked to describe they way in which they play with their three favorite toys and their three favorite friends or playmates; subsequently, their responses coded and evaluated according to a previously designed scale for the presence of physical aggression.
     The children were also asked to rate how often they enacted violent acts shown on television, video games, and other media, and the degree to which they obtained gratification when viewing contents related to aggression and aggressive behavior (Benenson and Carter, 2008).  
     In a confirmation of the initial hypothesis, the results of the study demonstrated that approximately 50% of boys at all age levels, and about less than 10% of girls at all age levels, reported that at least one of their three favorite toys was used for inflicting harm or injury through physical or non-physical aggression on an inanimate being, like a toy or image. (Benenson and Carter, 2008). With increasing age, however, boys rated physical aggression in play activities and on television as more enjoyable than alternative male sex-typed play and television content. When discussing the finding of the study, the researcher suggested that its results may indicate that enlarging the understanding of the development of aggression, both physical and non-physical, “requires acknowledging the pleasure it provides to males” (Benenson and Carter, 2008).  
     Methodological limitations will prevent this study from measuring   the importance of biological predispositions as a possible predictor of aggressive behavior. Therefore, it is very pertinent to take a look into the publications that have focused in this facet of aggression’s etiology to acquire a more complete conception of this conduct. As a published author in the online journal of the BBC, Williams (2004) summarized the conclusion of a documentary broadcasted by this network in which the relevance of mental conditions, medical problems, and physiological instances were measured as related to aggressive behavior. Of the more than one million violent crimes that were recorded in England between 2003 and 2004, estimates argue that 23% of all crime episodes can been attributed to poor or non-existent diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children in care homes (Williams, 2004). In addition, brain abnormalities have also been found to be associated with aggressive behaviors. According to the study, “research using brain imaging have shown that a group of murderers had poor functioning of the prefrontal cortex part of the brain - the area believed to control and regulate aggressive behaviour. Some scientists believe therefore that a person with a damaged or poor functioning prefrontal cortex has a tendency to be violent and aggressive.” Brain damage during birth complications was also found to result in a greater propensity for aggressive behaviors (Williams, 2004).
     However, Okey’s work on Human Aggression (1996) argues that aggressive conducts result from a combination of factors. Prefaced by the premise that “
the etiology of human aggressiveness has profound implications for therapeutic intervention, social policy, and planetary survival,” the most central findings of the researcher’s work argue that aggression results when biological, environmental and psychological factors coincide in “tragic comination” (Okey p. 2, 1996). The study does not provide an experiment characterized by evaluating the effect of independent variables on dependent variables through the data provided by a randomly selected sample. On the other hand, it is a review of the theoretical propositions found thoughout the work of various social scientists in different fields (Okey, 1996). Finally, the researcher argues that theories “supporting biological causation tend to be excessively reductionistic and inadequate to account for human aggressiveness, and that the umbrella or social learning theory-which allows for biological predisposition, social factors, and personal agency provides the most comprehensive model for understanding and intervening in human aggression” (Okey, p. 3 1996). 
      Regardless of contributory and causal factors, the work of social scientists has found that aggression takes many forms, from full blown and physical, to indirect.  Villancourt and Miller (2007), from McMaster University, Ontario, and the University of Montreal, at Quebec, studied behavioral characteristics that may act as reliable predictors of Indirect Aggression, and additionally, explored the nature of this comportment. The methodology designed for this purpose studied and modeled the development of indirect aggression among a nationally representative sample of 1,401 Canadian children from ages four to ten, and examined predictors for this behavior. It is important to note, however, that indirect aggression was defined by the study as a behavior that displays a significant manifestation of anger or frustration, but that is not intended to harm or injure a certain individual. To exemplify this concept, one can think of an episode in which a person explosively throws an object at a wall after being left alone. The independent variables were defined to be familial and parenting interaction, prior aggressive episodes, and socioeconomic status (Villancourt and Miller, 2007).
     Using logistic regression analyses to distinguish the girls from boys, the researcher found that for girls the increasing use of indirect aggression was associated with prior aggressive episodes, low socio economic status and low parental emotional support, especially at an early age. As for boys, on the other hand, the increasing use of indirect aggression was associated with parenting conflicts at an early age, as well as with inconsistency and conflictive parental interactions. According to the researchers, “although this study provides unique information regarding the early development of indirect aggression and its predictors, more longitudinal research is necessary to fully understand the characteristics of its development” (Villancourt and Miller, 2007, p. 56).
     Given that the two previous articles have focused in gender and indirect aggression, it may be not only interesting but also desirable to explore the literature that reviews the relationship between these two instances. Campbell and Muncer (2007) have explored how gender exerts an influence in the expression of Anger, and proposed the existence of gender differences in both the nature and expression of aggressive behavior. To be more specific, the researchers predicted that women may have a greater tendency to manifest aggression through an indirect manifestation, which is defined as the attitudes and actions that lack the intent to harm or injure (Recall the example of a person who screams or throws an object at a wall after a distressful event while being alone). Aggressive behaviors, both injurious and non-injurious, or direct or indirect, were scored in a questionnaire that asked participants their rate the frequency and likelihood of use when feeling a sense of anger and frustration. The sample used for the study selected 888 participants equally distributed between men and women (Campbell and Muncer, 2007).
     As initially predicted, the results of a confirmatory factor analysis revealed the existence of two sub-categories of aggression; direct aggression and indirect aggression. In addition, the latter category was found to contain two further scales: explosive acts, such as throwing objects when alone, and defusing acts, such as reliving stress by working out or through communicating with a friend or a third party (Campbell and Muncer, 2007). By a significant difference men exceeded women on direct aggression and explosive acts, whereas women, on the other hand, exceeded men on defusing acts. In the same way, expressive beliefs about aggression as for instance, the loss of self-control, were higher among women and highly correlated with use of defusing acts, such as talking to a friend, as well as with the avoidance of direct aggression. The use of aggression as an instrumental tool to control others was found to be significantly greater among men than among women. This concept is exemplified by a typical situation in which the perceived threat of aggressive behavior of a person may derive in a strong influence for the behaviors of others, especially of emotional partners (Campbell and Muncer, 2007).
        The causes and various facets of aggression have been widely described by the previous studies. Therefore, and subsequent to this exploration, it may be now important to explore the repercussions of aggressive behavior, its frequency, and the degree to which this conduct is correlated with other maladaptive conducts. The association between s
ubstance abuse, parenting Styles, and Aggression, was explored in order to obtain greater knowledge about the psychosocial world of weapon carrying students (Corvo and Williams, 2000). In addition, the researchers focused on the degree to which aggressive behaviors may result in criminal acts. Its methodology and findings represent one of the first undertaken initiatives to focus solely in children that were charged of bringing kniffes and weapons to school. Obtained through correlations and linear regression, the results reflected the importance of communication between children and other relatives, especially during meals. According to the study, daily or even weekly family meals characterized by the present of siblings and one or both parents was higly correlated with a much lesser probability of aggressive behavior and weapon use (Corvo and Williams, 2000). However, the study also found that a relatively high correlation between aggressive behavior and subtance abuse. In the words of the researchers: “the findings support the need for substance abuse assessments and family interventions that strengthen disciplinary and protective functions” (Corvo and Williams, 2000 p. 32).
     Finally, it is now important to investigate the work focused in the design of psychometric tools that allow for the measure of aggressive behavior in a quantifiable form. It is important to note that the questionnaire developed for this research is based upon several studies, some of which will be described in this review of literature. Lawrence (2006) explored the reliability and internal validity of the Situational Triggers of Aggressive Responses (STAR) scale, an inventory designed to measure aggressive behavior in a quantifiable manner. Through examining the type of events that make people feel aggressive, the researcher surveyed a sample of 145 participants in the hypothetical situations that have been deemed as prone to trigger aggression by similar inventories, such as the Buss and Perry scale for Aggression. The results of the study showed good internal and external validity, and were composed of two main factors or subscales: frustrations and provocations. A large body of knowledge has also focused in the design of self-reported inventories, but most importantly in their cross-cultural validity.
     O’connor and Archer (2001) measured the reliability of a questionnaire characterized by presenting specific aggressive-triggering situations. By asking participants to express their level of aggression when being robbed, disrespected, ignored, offended, or attacked, the study measured the internal and external validity of an inventory designed by the authors. Two typical questions of this questionnaire would be the following: 1) when someone steals a valuable object, like an Ipod, a cell phone, or something with sentimental value, I feel? 2) When someone makes an offensive remark to me, either about my gender or age, my race, my weight and appearance, or about anything that offends my dignity, I feel? Subsequent to the question, a Likert scale was provided for the participants to score their level of agreement. In addition, however, the study also discussed the development of a scale in which sentimental partners predicted the likelihood that their significant other would engage in aggressive behaviors.
Finally
Archer, Kilpatrick, and Bramwell, compared the Buss Perry and the STAR scale finding similar level of reliability and internal validity, while Ekblad and Olweus (1996) evaluated the applicability of these inventories in cross cultural environments, but more precisely by evaluating the applicability of Olweus' Aggression Inventory in a sample of Chinese primary school children.
     The findings of the study reported an unsurprising lack of resemblance between the responses of this particular sample and those found in western cultures (Olweus,1996). Overall, the statistical results indicated the existence of distinct traits of aggression among Chinese infants, even despite “of strong societal pressures against aggressive behavior and towards aggression control” that prevail in China. Some other findings, however, suggested that aggression may be a more global and commonly characterized human tendency than previously expected, something that may be the case partially because of universal human traits or due to the increasing existence of an imposing global community.
     After reviewing the literature focused in aggressive behavior, several conclusions can be drawn. A growing body of knowledge indicated that parenting styles exert a significant influence in the likelihood and degree of aggressive conduct, not only for infants and adolescents, but also for adults. Gender and socio-economic factors were also found to be important factors. As for biological and genetic variables, the studies discussed here conveyed that a biological theory for aggression tends to be too exhaustive, and that a more eclectic approach that includes social and psychological aspects provides a broader and more accurate perspective for this conduct. In addition, it can also be concluded that aggression takes many forms and degrees The two main facets of this behavior are defined as direct aggression, which is intended towards a certain  object, and indirect, which is only used to release internal frustration. The latter can be exemplified by an episode in which an individual throws an object to a wall while being left alone  after a distressful event and was found to be more prevalent in women than in men.
     Knowledge related to aggression and aggressive behavior represents a preponderant tool for the betterment of human societies. It allows for authorities and social scientists to prevent, curb, and treat episodes that threat the well being of individuals and groups in order to preserve a more harmonic and humane global community. If this assessment does not occur, there is an increasing risk for aggressive behaviors to translate into criminal and antisocial acts that will endanger the well being of individuals and groups alike. In addition, a greater understanding of this conduct will also help to identify the variables that derive in other related maladaptive behaviors, such as substance and alcohol addiction, self injury, and sexual abuse. The exploration done by this review will also serve to explain the results obtained after this study is conducted within the boundaries of the college environment. Studies characterized by a specific nature of this kind are also important because they provide an insight into a world that has its own particular complexities.
     The hypothesis for this study predicts that parenting styles and socio-economic status exert a greater influence than gender in the likelihood of aggressive behavior. To test this prediction, and to operationalize the variables, participants will obtain an aggression score that rates their probability to engage in aggressive acts, a score that defines the parenting styles to which they were exposed, and a placement in a certain socio-economic status of society. The scores will be obtained through the questionnaires designed for this research, and the parenting styles will be defined in the methodology section. Important to note is that the direction of the hypothesis is not only plausible, but expectable due to different reasons. As noted in several of the previously explained studies, parenting styles have been found to be one of the most salient factors affecting the psychological and behavioral growth of the individual, variables that are closely related to the likelihood of aggressive behavior. In addition, the process of socialization has also been found to be unequivocally affected by the socio-economic status where it takes place. Therefore, it is expectable that both the latter and the former affect gender in a comparable degree, and that their impact is more significant than gender alone.

 

Method

Participants

 

     One hundred students were randomly selected from a small private liberal arts university located in the Midwest of the United States. Of this sample, 45 were men and 55 women, with 80% of the sample between the ages of 18 and 21, 13% between the ages of 22 and 25, 3% between the ages of 26 and 30, and 4% aged 31 or above. All of the students enrolled at this institution had an equal chance of being selected to complete the survey, which was administered in classes, sport practice sessions, and other places of the campus. The population of this university is largely comprised by Caucasians, although a smaller but still significant portion of African Americans is present. Members of other minorities are also enrolled, but to a much smaller degree. Gender wise, there is a relatively equivalent portion of women and men. Participation occurred according to a completely voluntary basis with no remuneration of any kind given after being involved in the research. Those who answered the questionnaire were given the right to withdraw at any time, to ask questions about the survey, and to contact the researcher if any doubts were left unresolved. All the information that was pertinent or that may have affected the completion of the questions was be provided, and in addition,  the “Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct” (American Psychological Association, 1992) was thoroughly followed.
Materials
    
A survey based on previous related research (Lawrence, 2006) was designed to measure four main variables; aggression, gender, parenting styles, and socio-economic status. Although gender is self explanatory, the other three factors required a more specific set of questions in order to obtain more accurate and reliable answers from the participants. Techniques used by Villancourt and Miller (2007) and Sinclair (2001) were used to find the socio-economic status of those taking part in the experiment. These strategies utilized a set of questions to ask the estimated socioeconomic status of the participants, their yearly household income, the level of education of their parents, and whether if their household was comprised by one or two caregivers.  Parenting styles were measured according to Baumrind’s (1971) typology, which defines the three main approaches of parenthood as Authoritarian, Democratic, and Permissive. The specific questions for this research were nevertheless adapted from the study “Psychometric Support for a New Measure of Authoritarian, Authoritative and Permissive Practices: Cross Cultural Connections” (Clyde, 1996). The latter lists several sub-factors within each style, and through the use of a Likert scale establishes questions that provide a quantifiable way to identify participants as exposed to a certain parenting style. Finally, aggression was quantified according to the “Development of the Situation Triggers of Aggressive Responses (STAR) scale” (Lawrence, 2006), which provides a set of items for triggering events in which participants rate their potential level of aggression when provided with a hypothetical circumstance.
Procedure
     The questionnaire described above was administered to a random sample of participants. The survey was initially field tested and IRB approved before it was used for the statistical purposes of this research. After this initial evaluation, and after the questionnaires were completed by the participants, several statistical tests were conducted to understand the degree to which the previously explained variables affect the likelihood of aggressive behavior. A specific score was given separately to each gender on the basis of three criteria: level of aggression, type of parenting, and membership to a certain socio-economic status. In addition, a separate total score was computed for each gender to measure each of the parenting styles, which were defined to be Authoritarian, Democratic, and Permissive. Subsequently, frequencies, correlations, and t-tests were used to determine the influence exerted by the independent variables on the likelihood of aggression. The data obtained from these calculations was processed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, SPSS, and conclusions were drawn according to the statistical results of the tests performed.
                                                                   Results
     The findings of the study indicated different results for each gender. Of the three independent variables, the style of parenting to which participants were exposed during their infancy was found to be the most important contributing factor for aggressive behavior for women, but showed a lesser influence for men. For women, a correlation showed a significant positive association between Authoritarian Parenthood and aggression (r = 0.434, p = 0.001), and between Permissive Parenthood and the aggression (r = 0.313, p = 0.019). When comparing Democratic Parenthood with aggression for women, the correlation showed a non-significant association between these two variables (r = 0,241, p = 0.115) As for men, on the other hand, a significant positive correlation was only found between Permissive Parenthood and aggression
(r = 0.347, p = 0.021). Authoritarian and Democratic Parenthood were found to have no significant association with this score for the latter gender (r = 0.241, p = 0.115 and r = 0.56, p = 0.720 respectively). Correlations also found the association between gender and aggression as not significant (p = -0.049, r = 0.630). In the same way, socioeconomic status was also found to not have a significant correlation with the score for aggression for both genders (r = 0.159, p = 0.115).


 

                                                                           Correlations

 

 

 

DParenttot

AParenttot

PParenttot

AggrTote

DParenttot

Pearson Correlation

1

-.672(**)

.045

-.223

 

Sig. (2-tailed)
 

 

.000

.743

.098

 

N
 

56

56

56

56

AParenttot

Pearson Correlation

-.672(**)

1

-.054

.434(**)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)
 

.000

 

.693

.001

 

N
 

56

56

56

56

PParenttot

Pearson Correlation

.045

-.054

1

.313(*)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)
 

.743

.693

 

.019

 

N
 

56

56

56

56

AggrTote

Pearson Correlation

-.223

.434(**)

.313(*)

1

 

Sig. (2-tailed)
 

.098

.001

.019

 

 

N
 

56

56

56

56

**  Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

*  Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

 

Table A: Correlation between Parenting Styles and Total Score of Aggression for Females

                                                                           Correlations

 

 

 

DParenttot

AParenttot

PParenttot

AggrTote

DParenttot

Pearson Correlation

1

-.403(**)

.282

.241

 

Sig. (2-tailed)
 

 

.007

.064

.115

 

N
 

44

44

44

44

AParenttot

Pearson Correlation

-.403(**)

1

-.081

.056

 

Sig. (2-tailed)
 

.007

 

.599

.720

 

N
 

44

44

44

44

PParenttot

Pearson Correlation

.282

-.081

1

.347(*)

 

Sig. (2-tailed)
 

.064

.599

 

.021

 

N
 

44

44

44

44

AggrTote

Pearson Correlation

.241

.056

.347(*)

1

 

Sig. (2-tailed)
 

.115

.720

.021

 

 

N
 

44

44

44

44

**  Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

*  Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

 

Table B: Correlation between Parenting Styles and Total

 

After performing a t-test, the association between gender and aggression was also found to be weak. A two tailed independent samples t-test analysis comparing total aggression scores for men and women indicated that male scores (M = 47.36) did not differ significantly from female scores (M = 46.44), t (98) = 0.484, p = 0.630. In addition, a one tailed independent samples t-test used to evaluate whether if men’s scores for Aggression were higher than those of women indicated that this was not the case, with t (98) = 0.484, p = 0.315. The results of the one and the two tailed t-test suggest that the propensity for aggression of the participants was found to be irrespective of their gender.

                                                            Group Statistics

 

 

Gender

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

AggrTote

Male

44

47.3636

9.85025

1.48498

 

Female
 

56

46.4464

9.05723

1.21032

 

Table C: Gender for Statistics Aggressive Behavior Total Score

 

                                                                           Independent Samples Test

 

 

 

Levene's Test for Equality of Variances

t-test for Equality of Means

 

 

F

Sig.

t

df

Sig. (2-tailed)

Mean Difference

Std. Error Difference

95% Confidence Interval of the Difference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower

Upper

AggrTote

Equal variances assumed

.480

.490

.484

98

.630

.91721

1.89639

-2.84611

4.68053

 

Equal variances not assumed

 

 

.479

88.553

.633

.91721

1.91574

-2.88959

4.72400

 

Table D: Independent Sample T-test for Gender and Total Score for Aggression.

 

 

Finally, a one way ANOVA indicated that the scores of socioeconomic status were not significantly different to those of the aggression score, F (4, 95) = 2.105, p = 0.105. This result indicates that membership to a certain social strata was not found to be associated with a greater or lesser susceptibility for aggression, as it was previously established by the correlations conducted above. However, and as a particular result, the present study found that none of the participants rated themselves as members of the highest strata of society. 

                                                                              ANOVA

 

AggrTote

 

Sum of Squares

df

Mean Square

F

Sig.

Between Groups

537.161

3

179.054

2.105

.105

Within Groups

8167.589

96

85.079

 

 

Total

8704.750

99

 

 

 

 

Table E: Analysis of variance for Socioeconomic Status and Total Score for Aggression.

Table F: Bar Graph of Socioeconomic Status
                                                                    
                                                                       Discussion
     The findings of this study are congruent with the initial hypothesis, which predicted parenting styles to be more important contributing factors than gender for the likelihood for aggressive behavior. Given that a permissive style was found to be highly correlated with the probability of these comportments, it may be useful to identify the nature of a child’s parental relationship if disciplinary problems have been noted, or in order to predict the probability of aggressive behavior in the future. Important is to note, however, that an authoritarian parenting style was also found to be correlated with aggressive conduct, which makes its detection important as well. (Viemerö, 1996). To identify this parental approach, however, one should look for rejection, strict control, harsh emotional and physical punishment, and a low participation of the child in family decisions (Clyde 1996).
     Membership in a low socioeconomic status was not found to be correlated with the likelihood of aggressive behavior. This result could have occurred due the socioeconomically homogenous nature of the population from which the sample was selected. Taking a closer look at the frequencies related to this variable it was easy to find an overwhelming concentration towards the middle segment of society. The concurrence of an authoritarian parenting style and the membership to a low socioeconomic status may however indicate a higher likelihood for aggressive behavior, as indicated by Sinclair (2001). Finally, gender was found to be a less important contributing factor than parental style when measuring the likelihood of aggressive behavior. This finding does not act in accordance to traditional notions of gender roles in which men are commonly found as more prone to aggression (Campbell, 2008), but complies with the initial hypothesis of this study.
      Understanding aggressive behavior represents a crucial step to curb episodes of violence and conflict. Only by gaining knowledge of the contributing factors for aggression can psychologists predict the instances in which the concurrence of different variables may derive or result in a greater likelihood for aggressive behavior. Given that the present study took place in a college campus and was conducted with participants that were all college students, its content enlarges the knowledge related to aggressive behavior within the environment of the college world. This environment is characterized by its own nature and its own complexities, and as result, it may be necessary to do further research that separates its population from that of other social structures. This study attempts to do precisely that, and tries to fill the absence of knowledge related to aggressive behavior specifically among college students.
     The findings of this study also portray the changing gender roles of modern American Society. The fact that aggressive behaviors was not found to be highly correlated with gender indicates that women have broken traditional and outdated social notions that defined their gender as passive, and in which bursts of emotional manifestations were deemed to be impolite and unfeminine. In addition, the idea of a more aggressive woman may be related to one that is more assertive and to the fact that society may provide rewards when displaying aggressive behavior when facing threatening situations. These conclusions are, however, not surprising, nor do they act against observable modern trends. A growing number of women are attending and graduating from higher education, even at rates higher than men, and it is observable that the work force has experienced an increasing amount of females in managerial and above managerial positions (Campbell, 2008). Therefore, the findings of this study provide a statistical support for a possible explanation of this trend; the idea that women happen to be more aggressive and assertive than in the past.
     The limitations of the present study prevent its methodology from evaluating the impact of genetic and biological factors. These variables may play a significant role that may offset the significance of gender, parenting styles, and socio-economic status, making their influence possibly void. Physiological factors may also exert a different impact in different populations. For instance, to hypothesize an example, one can speculate that men may be more prone to inherit evolutionary traits that increase the likelihood of aggressive actions, while it may also be possible that Caucasians are genetically wired to be more passive than Hispanics (Benenson, 2008). In addition, the findings of this study are the result of a sample drawn from college students, and the results presented here are mainly applicable to this population. Despite these limitations, the findings of this study provide tools to gain a better understanding of the nature and contributing factors for aggression.
 


References


Anderson, C., & Bushman, B. (2001, September). Effects of Violent Video Games on
                 Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological
                 Arousal, and Prosocial Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Scientific
                 Literature. Psychological Science, 12(5), 353. Retrieved November 10, 2008, from
                 Academic Search Premiere Database.

Anderson, C., & Murphy, C. (2003, October). Violent video games and aggressive behavior in
                 young women. Aggressive Behavior, 29(5), 423-429. Retrieved November 10, 2008,
                  doi:10.1002/ab.10042.

Archer, J., Kilpatrick, G., & Bramwell, R. (1995, October). Comparison of Two Aggression
                 Inventories. Aggressive Behavior, 21(5), 371-380. Retrieved October 1, 2008, from
                 Academic Search Premier database.
Benenson, J., Carder, H., & Geib-Cole, S. (2008, March). The development of boys'
                preferential pleasure in physical aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 34(2), 154-166.
               Retrieved November 5, 2008, doi:10.1002/ab.20223
Bjorkqvist, K., & Osterman, K. (1992, December). Parental Influence on Children's Self-
               Estimated Aggressiveness. Aggressive Behavior, 18(6), 411-423. Retrieved November
               1, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

Campbell, A., & Muncer, S. (2008, May). Intent to harm or injure? Gender and the expression
               of anger. Aggressive Behavior, 34(3), 282-293. Retrieved November 5, 2008,
               doi:10.1002/ab.20228.
Clyde, P. (1996). Psychometric Support for a New Measure of Authoritative, Authoritarian, and
                 Permissive Parenting styles. Parenting Styles, 32(6), 44 – 56.

Coplan, R., Hastings, P., Lagace-Seguin, D., & Moulton, C. (2002, January). Authoritative
               and Authoritarian Mothers' Parenting Goals, Attributions, and Emotions Across
              Different Childrearing Contexts. Parenting: Science & Practice, 2(1), 1. Retrieved
              November 1, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

Corvo, K., & Williams, K. (2000, October). Substance Abuse, Parenting Styles, and
               Aggression: An Exploratory Study of Weapon Carrying Students. Journal of Alcohol &
              Drug Education
, 46(1), 1. Retrieved November 1, 2008, from Academic Search Premier
              database.
Ekblad, S., & Olweus, D. (1986, October). Applicability of Olweus' Aggression Inventory in
                a Sample of Chinese Primary School Children. Aggressive Behavior, 12(5), 315-325.
                Retrieved October 1, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.
Farrell, A., Kung, E., White, K., & Valois, R. (2000, June). The structure of self-reported
               aggression, drug use, and delinquent behaviors during early adolescence. Journal of
               Clinical Child Psychology
, 29(2), 282-292. Retrieved November 1, 2008, from
               PsycINFO database.
Lawrence, C. (2006, May). Measuring Individual Responses to Aggression-Triggering Events:
                 Development of the Situational Triggers of Aggressive Responses (STAR) Scale.
                Aggressive Behavior, 32(3), 241-252. Retrieved November 1, 2008, from:   
                doi:10.1002/ab.20122
O'Connor, D., Archer, J., & Wu, F. (2001). Measuring aggression: Self-reports, partner
                reports, and responses to provoking scenarios. Aggressive Behavior, 27(2), 79-101.
                Retrieved November 1, 2008, doi:10.1002/ab.2
Russell, A., Hart, C. (2003, January). Children's sociable and aggressive behaviour with peers:
               A comparison of the US and Australia, and contributions of temperament and parenting
               styles
. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 27(1), 74-86. Retrieved
               November 5, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.
Sinclair, G. (2001). Equity Indicators: Measures of Socio-Economic Status at Victoria University
               of Technology. Journal of Sociology, 66 – 78.
Vaillancourt, T., Miller, J., Fagbemi, J., Côté, S., & Tremblay, R. (2007, July). Trajectories
               and predictors of indirect aggression: results from a nationally representative
               longitudinal study of Canadian children aged 2–10. Aggressive Behavior, 33(4), 314-
               326. Retrieved November 5, 2008, doi:10.1002/ab.20202.

Viemerö, V. (1996, March). Factors in Childhood That Predict Later Criminal Behavior.
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                                                               Appendices
Appendix A: Survey

Informed Consent: Thank you for your participation. Participation is on a voluntary basis, and you may withdraw at any time. All the information you provide here will remain confidential and will be used only for experimental and statistical purposes. Please feel free to contact to the researcher, Carlos Marin at chmarin@mckendree.edu, or the faculty adviser Murella Bosse, at mbosse@mckendree.edu. You must be 18 to complete the survey.

 

Please Circle

 

1. Age:

18 – 21         22 – 25    26 – 30   31 and above

 

2. Gender

 

Male     Female

 

3. Growing up, I was a member of the:

 

Lower Class           Lower Middle Class     Middle Class        Upper Middle Class    Upper Class

 

4. On average, the total yearly income of the caregivers of the household where I grew up was:

 

10,000 to 15,000        15001 to  60000          60001 to 99999        100000 to 120000       < 120000

5. My father, or my male caregiver has:

A high-school degree    Some College   Associates Degree   A college Degree    Masters degree
                                                                                                                                 or above
7. My mother, or my female caregiver has:

 

A high-school degree    Some College    Associates Degree   A college Degree    Masters degree
                                                                                                                                     or above
6. In my household I grew up with:


No Siblings                 1 Sibling                  2 Siblings             3 or more siblings

7. During most of my infancy, I grew up in a:

 

Single caregiver household                                Two parent, or two caregiver household

 

 

8. My family owned their own home and/or owned other properties or assets:

 

Yes                         No

 

Please circle the frequency that characterized these situations when interacting with your parents while growing up:

 

1. When I was frustrated, upset, or hurt, my parents showed empathy for me:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

2. My parents expressed physical affection to me by hugging, kissing, and/or holding me:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

                                                                                    

3. My parents praised me when I was successful in something, and encouraged me to start projects and activities that required effort:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

                                                                                   

4. My parents talked and reasoned with me when I misbehaved or broke a rule:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

                                                                                    

5. My parents gave reasons for rules, explained why it was important to obey them, and explained the consequences for their violation:
1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always 

                                                                                  

6. My parents took my input into account when deciding family plans and family rules:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

                                                                                    

7. My parents encouraged me to express my thoughts and ideas freely:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always
                                                                        

8. My parents were easy going and relaxed with me when I was growing up:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

                                                                                    

9. I felt scolded and criticized by my parents:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5                
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

 

                                                                                   

10. I felt my parents demanded me to do things without discussion:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

                                                                                   

11. My parents used some type of physical punishment if I was disobedient:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

                                                                                     

12. If I acted in a disobedient way, my parents isolated me or took privileges away without much explanation:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

                                                                                   

13. My parents used to discipline and punish me first, and then tried to talk to me when I misbehaved:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

                                                                                    

14. My parents stated: Because I said so, or because I’m your parent and I want you to:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

                                                                                          

15. My parents yelled, shouted and acted aggressively when my behavior was displeasing to them:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always                                                                                          

 

16. My parents threatened to punish me if I acted in a certain way and then did not deliver the punished they had promised:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

                                                                                          

17. My parents gave into my demands when I threw a tantrum about something:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

                                                                                             

18. My parent rarely disciplined me, or found it difficult to correct my behavior if I misbehaved:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

                                                                                              

19. My parents allowed me to annoy or interrupt others, and ignored the fact that my behavior broke previously established rules:

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always

 

                                                                                            

20. My parents followed most of my wishes

1                    2                      3                   4                    5               
Never          Rarely          Sometimes      Usually          Always                                                                                             

 

Please express your level of aggression, or the level to which you get “pissed off” when facing the following hypothetical situations:

1.      When someone steals a valuable object, like an Ipod,  a cell Phone, or something with sentimental value for me, I feel:

 

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive

2.      When someone makes an offensive remark to me, either about my gender or age, my race, my weight and appearance, or about anything that offends my dignity, I feel:

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive

 

3.      When someone insults me using offensive language, discriminatory terms, or swear words that are highly demeaning to me I feel:

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive

 

4.      When my roomate or the people I live show lack of consideration with me, or when they  show lack of hygiene or act in an excessively disorganized way I feel,

 

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive

 

5.      When someone who is drunk behaves inconsiderately towards me, I feel:

 

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive

6.       When it seems that those around me are becoming hostile and aggressive I feel:

 

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely

 

7.      When someone is rude or inconsiderate with me in a public place or common area like a shopping mall, a public bus or a library I feel:

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive

 

8.      When I feel that someone is deliberately ignoring me I feel:

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive

 

9.      When I am driving and I feel that someone commits a traffic violation that affects me I feel:

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive

10.  When I feel frustrated with the costumer service of a certain company or store because these services were incompetent, insufficient, slow, or the treatment was rude I feel:

 

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive

11.  When I feel a noise that is highly annoying that I cannot control and it is impossible for me to move from that location I feel:

 

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive

12.  When I have a strong dispute or argument with my significant other and I feel that he/she is being selfish, un-thoughtful, dishonest or inconsiderate about my emotions and/or about my point of view I feel:

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive

13.  When I feel stressed or overwhelmed by the current situations in my life I feel:

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive



 

14.   When I feel a Professor dislikes me or is extremely unfair with his or her grading I feel:

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressiv

 

15.  When someone attacks me physically I feel:

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive

 

16.  When I have to use a computer for homework, and I cannot find a place because all the computer labs are filled with people looking at their facebook profile, I feel:

 

1                               2                        3                           4                         5
Not Aggressive      A Little             Somewhat          Very                    Extremely
at All                       Aggressive       Aggressive          Aggressive         Aggressive

 

Appendix B: Institutional Review Board Expedited Approval

McKendree University
Research Institutional Review Board Form

Date:    October 3, 2008

Request for:

     Full IRB Review
     Expedited IRB Review
     Exempt

Title of Research Project: Aggressive Behavior: The Importance of Gender Socio Economic Status and Parenting Styles

Name and Contact Information:

Faculty Advisor
Phone Number
E-mail


 

 

Student Investigator
Phone Number
E-mail
Undergraduate
Graduate









Hypothesis (Quantitative Research only):

    

Purpose of Research:

    

Describe the participants in the study (e.g. gender, race, age, special population group - mentally challenged - if applicable, total number, etc.):

    

Methodology (Please describe briefly the procedure for how the information will be gathered, timeline, etc.):

    

Please describe all measures used in the study (e.g. surveys, instruments, etc. - Please attach all measures to this form):

    

What are the risks and/or benefits to the participants involved?  Minimal risk, the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated is not greater, than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests.

What will be done to reduce the risks to the participants and maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the data?

Participants will take part in the experiment on a voluntary basis. The may withdraw at any time, and all pertinent questions will be answered. All information that may affect participation will be given.

     Survey:  If you are using a survey, please attach it here: Attached in Appendix A

    Read and accept the following statement:

I am familiar with the ethical principles on the research with human participants.  I have read the policies for obtaining approval from the institutional review board at McKendree University.  I certify that the information provided on this form is accurate and complete.  I also certify that if the conditions or procedures in this proposal undergo substantial change, I will submit a new form.  I also realize that this form allows me to conduct this research for a time period no longer than two years.  Approval of this research does not remove liability from the responsible investigator.

I accept the agreement       I do not accept the agreement 

Note:  If you do not receive conformation that the data has been sent contact John Graham at 537-6822.