Date of Award

1996

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Kevin Howells

Abstract

A single study investigates two cognitive theories of anger arousal, and the hostile attribution bias (HAB) phenomenon from the aggression literature. It was argued that the role of B. Weiner’s (1985, 1986) casual attribution dimension of intentionality has been underestimated in anger arousal; and it was hypothesised that when attributions of intentionality increase anger arousal increases. R. S. Lazarus and K. A. Smith's ( 1988) appraisal theory holds that emotions arc aroused in response to personally relevant events, and without this appraisal process causal attibutions are insufficient to evoke emotions. Based on this it was hypothesised that appraisal components are better predictors of anger arousal that attribution dimensions. For HAB, it was predicted that a high anger prone group would become more angry, and make stronger attributions of intentionality in ambiguous and accidental situations, when compared to a control group. Participants were 34 females and 60 males (Mean age= 33.6 years). Participants were shown a series of video recorded vignettes that depicted social interactions with negative consequences, and asked how they would react if they were the protagonist in these vignettes. Scales developed by the author, were used to measure expected anger arousal, 4 appraisal components, and 5 causal attibutions dimensions. Three counterbalanced series of 3 vignettes were used. These showed 3 scenarios in which the intent of an antagonist was depicted as either accidental, ambiguous or deliberate. Results showed anger arousal increased in 6 of the 8 comparisons in which intentionality increased, no contradictory results were found. Intentionality was also found to be the primary attribution dimension implicated in anger arousal. Appraisal components were found to be better cognitive predictors of anger arousal than attributions, however, individual appraisal dimensions did not interact in the predicted fashion. No support was found for extending HAB to anger. These results were interpreted as showing that attributions of intentionality play a causal role in anger arousal, and that the personal significance of events is more closely related to anger arousal than an event's cause. The overall conclusion was that the results for intentionality were of the most theoretical and applied significance.

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