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The relationship between intent to harm, attributions and cues in the perception of aggression Kyle, Neil John


This research dealt with attributions of intent to harm, responsibility, justification and affect made by subjects observing role-acted aggressive behaviour toward a victim. The primary question concerned the relationship between the types of attributions made (dependent variables) and the types of cues displayed by the protagonist (independent variables). The independent variables were systematically manipulated by depicting them, in ten different videotaped scenes. One hundred, male, undergraduate psychology students at the University of British Columbia were volunteer subjects. The results were analyzed by grouping the independent variables on two bases: (1) by a priori criteria, and (2) according to the subjects' perceptions. The first analysis used a three-way 2x2x2 ANOVA, where the three fully crossed factors were the presence or absence of implicit or explicit verbal cues, or nonverbal cues. Simple main effects analyses were conducted on significant interactions. Trend analyses established the effects of increasing the number of cues displayed. The second analysis used an eight group one-way ANOVA plus trend analyses. The protagonists' use of nonverbal cues or an increase in the number of cues displayed was found to decrease attributions of responsibility to the victim, increase the victim's likeability, decrease the justification of the protagonist and decrease his likeability. When the protagonist became very aggressive these effects were reversed. Implications for pacificism of this backlash effect against the victim were discussed.

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