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Hostile Attributional Bias in Aggressive and Nonaggressive Children

Vezir Aktaş, Deniz Şahin, Orhan Aydın
2005; 20(55):43-59

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The purpose of the present study was to examine the hostile attributional biases of aggressive and nonaggressive boys and girls among primary school children. The status of aggressiveness was assessed with a peer nomination instrument for a sample of 529 (230 girls and 293 boys) fifth grade children. Participants were presented with 11 ambiguous pictures with negative outcomes. For each picture a questionnaire with multiple choice answers was administered to measure the child's tendency to attribute personal/impersonal causality, positive/negative intentions and hostile attributional bias. A 2 (aggressive/nonaggressive) x 2 (sex) ANOVA was used to analyse the data. Results indicated that aggressive children attributed more personal causality, negative intentions to the ambiguous negative outcomes represented in the pictures than to the nonaggressive children. In relation to different forms of aggression such as physical, passive and the verbal, the findings showed some variability. Physically aggressive children displayed more hostile attribution than the nonaggressive ones. On the other hand, the form of passive aggressiveness was not significant in relation to the aggressiveness/nonaggressiveness status. On verbal aggression form, aggressive children indicated a propensity toward hostile attribution when compared to the nonaggressive types. A main effect of sex was obtained; boys attributed more personal causality, more negative intention and hostile attributional bias when compared to girls. All of the results were in line with literature.

Keywords: Hostile attributional bias, aggression, gender