Antisocial thoughts, such as those related to hurting people, may play a key role in causing aggressive behavior. For example, the prominent explanation for the effect of media violence on aggression proposes that media violence increases aggression because it primes or activates thoughts centered around antisocial actions. Once primed, such antisocial thoughts are more likely to guide in the interpretation of new events as well as the selection of one's actions. The proposed research builds on such a cognitive explanation for aggression. The project will examine individual differences in aggression on the basis of the speed with which people can categorize prosocial and antisocial words. In addition, the project will also examine individual differences in the extent to which one antisocial concept primes another antisocial concept, as well as the extent to which distress and antisocial thoughts are connected. These differences in cognitive processes between individuals will be correlated with aggression-related traits as well as with behavior and experience in everyday life. The project will also involve using cognitive measures to predict aggressive behaviors in the laboratory, particularly following exposure to media violence and manipulations of psychological distress. Finally, the project proposes to extend the cognitive analysis of aggression by manipulating the cognitive processes that may give rise to aggressive behavior. Preliminary findings suggest that such research may reveal new insights about the causes, correlates, and prevention of aggression. For this reason, this project will have implications for the assessment and treatment of aggressive-prone individuals.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-4 (01))
Program Officer
Kozak, Michael J
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North Dakota State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Ode, Scott; Robinson, Michael D; Wilkowski, Benjamin M (2008) Can One's Temper be Cooled?: A Role for Agreeableness in Moderating Neuroticism's Influence on Anger and Aggression. J Res Pers 42:295-311
Ode, Scott; Robinson, Michael D (2007) Agreeableness and the Self-Regulation of Negative Affect: Findings Involving the Neuroticism/Somatic Distress Relationship. Pers Individ Dif 43:2137-2148
Robinson, Michael D; Ode, Scott; Moeller, Sara K et al. (2007) Neuroticism and Affective Priming: Evidence for a Neuroticism-Linked Negative Schema. Pers Individ Dif 42:1221-1231
Meier, Brian P; Robinson, Michael D; Crawford, L Elizabeth et al. (2007) When ""light"" and ""dark"" thoughts become light and dark responses: affect biases brightness judgments. Emotion 7:366-76
Robinson, Michael D; Clore, Gerald L (2007) Traits, States, and encoding speed: support for a top-down view of neuroticism/state relations. J Pers 75:95-120
Robinson, Michael D; Ode, Scott; Wilkowski, Benjamin M et al. (2007) Neurotic contentment: a self-regulation view of neuroticism-linked distress. Emotion 7:579-91
Goetz, Mark C; Goetz, Paul W; Robinson, Michael D (2007) What's the use of being happy? Mood states, useful objects, and repetition priming effects. Emotion 7:675-9
Tamir, Maya; Robinson, Michael D; Solberg, Emily Crawford (2006) You may worry, but can you recognize threats when you see them?; Neuroticism, threat identifications, and negative affect. J Pers 74:1481-506
Robinson, Michael D; Wilkowski, Benjamin M; Meier, Brian P (2006) Unstable in more ways than one: reaction time variability and the neuroticism/distress relationship. J Pers 74:311-43
Meier, Brian P; Robinson, Michael D; Wilkowski, Benjamin M (2006) Turning the other cheek. Agreeableness and the regulation of aggression-related primes. Psychol Sci 17:136-42

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