The Development of an Indirect Aggression Scale

Topics: Psychometrics, Psychology, Aggression Pages: 12 (3295 words) Published: May 1, 2013
349PY The Individual and Issues in Psychology Module Leader: Christine Grant Scale Development of a Personality Trait: Indirect Aggression 21st January 2013 SID: 3048506

This report presents the development of a psychometric scale, measuring indirect aggression as a personality trait. Twenty items were generated after researching some previously developed indirect aggression scales (Forrest et al. 2005) and the ‘International Personality Item Pool’ website (IPIP 2013). The scale consisted of 20 items, each of which belonged to one of three different dimensions of indirect aggression - social exclusion, malicious humour and guilt induction. The scale was administered to 20 undergraduate Psychology students from Coventry University. After analysis were conducted it was found that the scale had a high internal consistency and good face validity. Future validation in larger samples may be necessary for the better establishment of the scale as an assessment measuring indirect aggression.

The aim of this report is to present the development of a scale, which can access indirect aggression as a personality trait. Indirect aggression was first introduced by Feshbach (1969) who referred to it as a behaviour that aims to harm an individual’s social relations. The nature of indirect aggression usually enables the aggressor to remain unknown, which makes it a preferable aggressive strategy (Brendgen 2012).

There are not many studies that researched indirect aggression in terms of the different theories of personality. However, the most influential approaches to sex differences in aggression Bandura’s (1977) social learning models, referred to indirect aggression as a trait that is learned

over time. For example, according to the social script model children tend to adopt aggressive schemas that initiate and guide their aggressive behaviour (Huesmann and Guerra 1997). Another way of learning to use indirect aggression is through modeling behaviour, which implies that the environment that children are raised in is crucial to the establishment of the specific behaviours that children adopt (McLaughlin 2006).

According to Bjorkqvist et al.(1992) and their developmental theory of aggression, different types of aggression develop at different stages of an individual’s life. Thus, with the development of sociocognitive skills, children begin to employ more indirect forms of aggressive behaviour. Theory of mind is a typical example of a sociocognitive skill, which enables people to explain and predict behaviour on the basis of their own mental representations (Wellman et al. 2001). Children with good Theory of mind skills were found to be better at manipulating other people’s mental representations.Therefore, good Theory of mind skills were possitively associated with the use of indirect aggressive strategies (Sutton et al 1999).

In terms of evolution, for a long time, psychologists argued that men are more aggressive than women because they have to fight off competition in order to have a better access to female mates and pass their genes successfully. However, Campbell et al. (2001) suggested that females have just as much interest to find high quality mates as men and that female competition do exist. Campbell et al. (2001) also suggested that females compete with each other for quality mates using mainly indirect aggressive strategies.

Many studies discovered that direct physical aggression is more typical for men and that females tend to engage in more indirect aggressive behaviour than men (Bjorkqvist et al. 1992; Crick et al. 1997). Some evolutionary strategic models (Archer 2001; Hess and Hagen 2006) present the idea that sex differences in aggression result from the different selective environments of males and females. Based on this statement, Hess (2006) concluded that indirect aggression for women and physical aggression for men are simply adaptations. Goldstein (1999) argued that our...
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