An Investigation of Order Effects in the Measurement of Aggression and Aggressive Cognition

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Principal investigators:

Paul Boxer

Rutgers University, Newark and University of Michigan

Email: pboxer@psychology.rutgers.edu

Homepage: http://nwkpsych.rutgers.edu/~pboxer/

Eric F. Dubow

Bowling Green State University and University of Michigan

Email: edubow@bgsu.edu

Homepage: http://www2.bgsu.edu/departments/psych/page33037.html

Rowell Huesmann

University of Michigan

Email: Huesmann@umich.edu

Homepage: http://www.rcgd.isr.umich.edu/aggr/personnelprofiles/huesmann.html


Sample size: 1007

Field period: 10/2003-11/2003

Abstract

Our Study examined order effects in assessing aggression and beliefs about aggression. We hypothesized that stronger relations between behavior and beliefs would obtain from asking individuals to report first on behavior and then on beliefs, compared to the reverse. A nationally representative sample of 1,007 adults (58% female) completed a telephone survey in which each subject was assigned randomly to one of the two orders described above. Subjects responded to questions assessing: engagement in physical/verbal aggression in the last year and beliefs about how acceptable it is to behave aggressively. Our hypothesis was confirmed in that a correlation obtained only when participants first reported on their aggressive behavior: in this condition the correlation between aggression and beliefs about aggression was -.14 (p < .01; n = 502); in the reversed-order condition it was -.03 (p > .50, n = 505). Our results suggest important considerations for assessing aggression and aggressive beliefs.

Hypotheses

We hypothesized that stronger relations between behavior and beliefs would obtain from asking individuals to report first on behavior and then on beliefs, compared to the reverse.

Experimental Manipulations

The manipulation consisted of randomly assigning subjects to one of two questionnaire orders: aggressive behavior, then normative beliefs about aggression; or normative beliefs about aggression, then aggressive behavior.

Outcomes

Aggressive behavior and normative beliefs about aggression.

Summary of Results

See abstract

Conclusions

See abstract

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