Aggression is described as being the behaviour of harming another living being against their wishes (Baron & Richardson, 1994). Violence is a type of aggression that has extreme harm as its goal (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). Violence occurs across the life span, with certain peaks and troughs cross culturally and is extremely costly to societies. There are many reasons why people engage in violence and psychologists work to understand the factors that contribute to violence in order to explain this behaviour and develop interventions to prevent violence. In order to understand a behaviour, psychologists explore a person’s experiences, their emotions, their environment and the way that they think.. Violence is just the same, we need to understand how these elements come together for individuals in order to understand how (or why) they engaged in violence.
In our project, we are exploring violence in the context of teenage relationships. The teenage years are challenging times for us biologically, socially and psychologically. It is a time of great physical change, hormone and body changes can be extremely challenging for a young person to understand. It is a time of heightened emotional experience, mood changes and conflict both at home and within peer relationships. How these conflicts occur and are resolved are important experiences for us in resolving relationship difficulties.
One of the key factors to consider when we are exploring violence is how we tend to think. How we think about ourselves, and how we view ourselves in the context of social situations. There is a specific way of thinking that research suggests is associated with increased violence and this is called ‘Machismo’. Research has shown that this type of thinking is associated with violence in young people (Walker, 2005), predictive of criminal violence (Walker & Bowes, 2013) and predictive of violence in general as well as in mentally disordered adult populations (Bowes et al. 2017; Warnock-Parkes, Gudjonsson & Walker, 2008). Machismo thinking can be described as viewing violence as an important part of being respected as strong and as a male. It also involves feeling a sense of shame or fear associated with ‘backing down’ from a situation of conflict. Respect, shame and embarrassment become more important to us in teenage years when our peer relationships become more important. We think that this type of thinking may play a role in dating violence, so, as part of the L4V project we will be asking participants to complete measures about how they think. Machismo is one of the measures we will be using as part of the project and we will report back what we find.
Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2002). Human aggression. Annual Review of Psychology,53, 27-51.
Baron, R. A., & Richardson, D. R. (1994). Human Aggression (2nd ed.). New York: Plenum.
Bowes, N., Walker, J., Hughes, E., Lewis, R., Hyde, G. (2017) The Role of Violent Thinking in Violent
Behavior: It’s More About Thinking Than Drinking. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, first published online August 4th2017.
Walker, J. S. (2005). The Maudsley Violence Questionnaire: Initial validation and
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Walker, J. S., & Bowes, N. (2013). The evaluation of violent thinking in adult offenders and non-offenders using the Maudsley Violence Questionnaire. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 23, 113-123.
Warnock-Parkes, E., Gudjonsson, G., & Walker, J. (2008). The relationship between the Maudsley Violence Questionnaire and official recordings of violence in mentally disordered offenders. Personality and Individual Differences, 44, 833-841.