Retarding the escalation of aggression

Jeffrey H. Goldstein1, Roger Davis1, Michael Kernis2, Ellen S. Cohn3
1Temple University, United States
2University of Rochester, United States
3University of New Hampshire, United States
Cite this article:  Goldstein, J. H., Davis, R., Kernis, M., & Cohn, E. S. (1981). Retarding the escalation of aggression. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 9(1), 65-70.

Volume 9 Issue 1 | e315 | Published: February 1981 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1981.9.1.65

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Three experiments examined the inhibition of escalation of aggression. Subjects either punished incorrect or rewarded correct responses made by a confederate on a learning task. In Experiment 1, some subjects were interrupted midway through the learning trials, and some of the interrupted subjects coded their responses up to that point. The interruption and coding had no effect on escalation of reinforcement intensity over trials. In Experiment 2, half the subjects were individuated and half were de-individuated. Half of each group expected to meet the "victim" following the trials and half did not. Neither variable impeded escalation. In Experiment 3, half the subjects were provided with a "hot-line" that could be used to summon the experimenter. Some subjects were also videotaped during the experiment. The presence of the hot-line reduced the overall intensity of aggression relative to the no hot-line group.
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