Cathartic effects revisited : the impacts of goals on aggressive thoughts and aggressive behavior

  • A functional look at the catharsis hypothesis is investigated. The basic assumption of the model is that the goal to aggress increases aggression-related constructs. Furthermore, it is assumed that this heightened accessibility of aggression-related constructs loses its functionality after goal-fulfillment. Therefore, it is claimed that after goal-fulfillment accessibility of aggression-related constructs decreases. It is also expected that aggressive behavior is reduced after goal-fulfillment. Study 1 to 3 examined whether fulfilling an aggressive goal reduces aggression. Study 1 showed an increase of aggression-related constructs after priming the goal to aggress via a fictitious scenario compared to a control scenario. After imagined and symbolic goal-fulfillment the accessibility of aggression-related constructs was reduced. Study 2 showed that after fulfilling the goal to aggress aggressive behavior was reduced. In addition, a non-aggressive way of goal-fulfillment reduced aggressive behavior even more. Study 3 demonstrated that goal-fulfillment is necessary for reducing accessibility of aggression-related constructs. Without goal-fulfillment fictitious aggressive acts against an unrelated target/inanimate object increase aggression. Study 4 tested an alternative explanation for post-fulfillment reduction in accessibility, namely thought-suppression. In general, thought suppression leads to heightened accessibility of thoughts in a group that was instructed to suppress these thoughts compared to a non-suppression group (rebound effect). Participants who were instructed to suppress aggressive thoughts had more accessible aggressive thoughts than a group without suppression instruction. Aggressive behavior was also more pronounced after suppression compared to a non-suppression group (behavioral rebound effect). The present results are discussed in the realm of goal-system theory and of other fields in aggression research like (triggered) displaced aggression.

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Publishing Institution:IRC-Library, Information Resource Center der Jacobs University Bremen
Granting Institution:Jacobs Univ.
Author:Markus Denzler
Referee:Jens Förster, Ulrich Kühnen, Roland Neumann, Nira Liberman, Bettina Olk
Advisor:Jens Förster
Persistent Identifier (URN):urn:nbn:de:101:1-201305226055
Document Type:PhD Thesis
Date of Successful Oral Defense:2006/04/20
Year of First Publication:2006
PhD Degree:Psychology
School:SHSS School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Library of Congress Classification:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion / BF Psychology / BF511-593 Affection. Feeling. Emotion / BF575.A3 Aggressiveness. Violence
Call No:Thesis 2006/06

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