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The present research is part of a series of cross-cultural studies with the overall aim of investigating which biosocial processes may be involved in aggression. This issue is complex because of its multiple causes (Ramirez, 1994, 1996a, 1998. 2000, Ramirez, Nakaya, & Habu, 1980). Aggression can be elicited by frustrating, or otherwise aversive, events (Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, & Seais, 1939) and by the individual’s disposition to react aggressively to such events. Ethnic and cultural differences may also influence the quality and level of this individual proneness. Individuals may differ in their proneness to particular kinds of emotional arousal, notably to anger.
Most experimental research on anger has concentrated on its physiological indications (e g. blood pressure) compared with those of other emotional stales (Ax. 1953. Schwartt Weinberger. & Singer. 1981; Stemmler, 1989), but little has been done to study the antecedents of emotional behavior relevant to the incidence of anger, such as the possible relationship between aggression and individual proneness to anger. Our specific purpose was to determine whether there are any gender and cultural differences in this eventual relationship.
One can assume the importance of biological characteristics, as well as of the sociocultural context, which allows, encourages, or restrains the experience of anger and the expression of aggression by norms and values.
Measuring anger proneness at an individual level can be an important source of information for predicting intensity of anger and aggressive behavior when a person is confronted with an anger-eliciting situation A sample of 976 university students—195 in Japan (48 male, 147 female), 551 in the Netherlands (187 male, 364 female), and 230 in Spain (56 male, 174 female)—read 17 vignettes depicting anger proneness, focusing on the frequency of experienced anger and of assertive and aggressive tendencies. In each hypothetical scenario, a valid representation of a real-life situation, we used the Anger Situation Questionnaire (van Goozen. Cohen-Kettenis, Goozen, Frijda, & van de Poll. 1995, van Goozen, Frijda, Kindt. & van de Poll. 1994, van Goozen. Frijda. & van de Poll, 1994) to measure three dimensions of anger disposition the emotional experience, the felt intensity of the emotional experience, arid the action readiness in response to a number of common anger—provoking situations We conducted statistical tests with rejection criteria of p< .05 and p<.01.
Our data showed (a) that aggression resulted from the individual’s disposition to react aggressively to the events described in the vignettes, (b) that anger proneness was not significantly different in the two European samples but that aggression proneness was significantly higher among the Japanese than among both European samples and was lowest among the Spanish students, and (c) that there were no significant gender differences in any of the samples for aggression proneness and that anger was higher among the male participants than among the female participants only in the Dutch sample.
In spite of different levels of proclivity toward aggression (a product of some almost opposite cultural rules), Japanese and European anger proneness was not significantly different in the present research, as similarly argued elsewhere (Fujihara. Kohyama, Andreu, & Ramirez, 1999, Ramirez, 1991, 1993. Ramirez, Andreu. & Fujihara, in press, Ramirez & Fujihara 1997), differentiating feelings and attitudes toward interpersonal aggression.
Contrary to the predictions of some congruent gender differences—for instance, that women focus on emotional stimuli and become more upset by condescending and insensitive behavior and that men are more likely to become angry in response to physical aggression or injury to another person (Hams, 1993, Ramirez, Fujihara, van Goozen, & Santisteban. in press)—gender differences affecting anger disposition and arousal and aggressive tendencies were small or nonexistent in the present results, with the exception of the Dutch sample, in which the male participants showed significantly higher levels of anger.
- Ramírez, J. Martín; Fujihara, Takehiro; Van Goozen, Stephanie. Journal of Social Psychology, Feb2001, Vol. 141 Issue 1, p119-121
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