Psychologists Discover Links Between Angry Thoughts and Displaced Aggression in Male Gang Affiliates

Image

ScienceDaily (July 12, 2012) — Research conducted among pupils in three London schools has shown that male street gang affiliates who engage in angry rumination (i.e. think continuously about provoking or negative events and situations) have the greatest tendency towards displaced aggression against innocent others.


This is partly because angry rumination can provide an opportunity for revenge planning and fantasizing, as well as justifying the anger that a person feels, which can make provoked persons feel better. As a result, the desire and motivation for revenge is maintained, prolonged or exacerbated, and ruminating individuals are more likely to be primed with aggressive tendencies.

The research, which was conducted by psychologist Dr Eduardo Vasquez and colleagues at the University of Kent, also concluded that angry rumination could be the psychological path that links gang affiliation to displaced aggression. In other words, if rumination did not occur, displaced aggression might be reduced in gang affiliates. Furthermore, their study showed that rumination is an important predictor of displaced aggression above and beyond other personality characteristics such as trait aggression, anger, hostility, and irritability.

Dr Vasquez, an expert on aggressive behavior and inter-gang violence, explained that ruminating about provoking incidents ‘can prime individuals for aggressive responding and facilitates not only direct retaliation against a provocateur, but also displaced aggression toward innocent targets. This is because aggressive priming makes individuals perceive more hostility from others and increases the motivation to lash out, especially if they encounter a safe target, such as a sibling or romantic partner, who might not retaliate in a severe manner.

‘Therefore, gang-affiliated youth may be at an increased risk of engaging in displaced aggression as they are more likely to encounter provoking situations and spend more time thinking about aggression-related ideas, such as revenge and getting even.’

Dr Vasquez, who lectures in forensic psychology at the University’s School of Psychology, also explained that the team’s findings suggest that gang affiliated youth might not aggress simply as a function of highly aggressive personalities. ‘Rather, they may be part of a population that is more likely to experience situations that produce a wide range of aggressive behaviors,’ he said. ‘For instance, their tendency to experience aversive events and to ruminate increases the likelihood that gang-affiliated youth will aggress, even in the absence of proper subsequent justification.’

This research by Dr Vasquez and colleagues is important in that it has also revealed that one promising route for reducing aggression and violence within male street gang affiliates involves developing interventions that focus on decreasing rumination. This may include ‘distraction techniques’ such as exercise or sporting activity and listening to music. Other types of activities that might prove useful against ruminating include meditation and relaxation techniques, hobbies or reading. ‘Such distractions,’ he said, ‘regulate negative affect by keeping negative thought from being readily accessible and/or by drawing the focus of attention away from negative moods.’

Journal Reference:

  1. Eduardo A. Vasquez, Sarah Osman and Jane L. Wood, School of Psychology, University of Kent. Rumination and the Displacement of Aggression in United Kingdom Gang-Affiliated Youth. Aggressive Behavior, Volume 38, pages 89%u201397 (2012)
Advertisements

First Ever Videos of Snow Leopard Mother and Cubs in Dens Recorded in Mongolia

ScienceDaily (July 12, 2012) — For the first time, the den sites of two female snow leopards and their cubs have been located in Mongolia’s Tost Mountains, with the first known videos taken of a mother and cubs, located and recorded by scientists from Panthera, a wild cat conservation organization, and the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT).


Because of the snow leopard’s secretive and elusive nature, coupled with the extreme and treacherous landscape which they inhabit, dens have been extremely difficult to locate. This is a tremendous discovery and provides invaluable insight into the life story of the snow leopard.

Dr. Tom McCarthy, Executive Director of Panthera’s Snow Leopard Program stated, “We have spent years trying to determine when and where snow leopards give birth, the size of their litters, and the chances a cub has of surviving into adulthood. This is one of those exceptional moments in conservation where after years of effort, we get a rare glimpse into the life of an animal that needs our help in surviving in today’s world. These data will help ensure a future for these incredible animals.”

A short video of the female and her cub who were bedded down in a partially human-made den was recorded from a safe distance by Örjan Johansson, Panthera’s Snow Leopard Field Scientist and Ph.D. student, using a camera fixed to an extended pole.

http://www.panthera.org/programs/snow-leopard/videos-snow-leopard-mother-and-cubs-dens-recorded-mongolia

The team, which included a veterinarian, entered the two dens (the first with two cubs, and the second containing one cub) while the mothers were away hunting. All three cubs were carefully weighed, measured, photographed and other details were recorded. Two of the cubs were fixed with tiny microchip ID tags (the size of a grain of rice) which were placed under their skin for future identification. The utmost care was taken in handling the animals to ensure they were not endangered, which was the top priority of the team at all times. In the following days, the team monitored the mothers’ locations to ensure that they returned to their dens and their cubs, which they successfully did.

“Knowledge about the first days and weeks of life is vital to our understanding of how big cat populations work, and how likely it is for a newborn to reach adulthood and contribute to a healthy population. A valid conservation program requires such information, which this new development in snow leopard research provides,” said Dr. Howard Quigley, Panthera’s Executive Director of both Jaguar and Cougar Programs.

Referred to by locals as ‘Asia’s Mountain Ghost,’ knowledge of snow leopards in general is quite limited due to the cat’s elusive nature, and even less is known about rearing cubs and cub survival in the wild. Until now, what is known has mostly been learned from studying snow leopards in zoos. Although snow leopard litters typically consist of one to three cubs in a captive zoo environment, no information exists regarding litter size in the wild. As wild snow leopard cubs are subject to natural predators, disease, and also human threats such as poaching or capture for the illegal wildlife market, the percentage of cubs which survive to adulthood has until now only been speculated.

The use of PIT tags and observations of snow leopard rearing in the wild will allow our scientists to learn about the characteristics of a typical natal den and speculate how a den is selected, how long snow leopard cubs remain in dens, when cubs begin to follow their mothers outside of the dens, how often and how long the mother leaves the cubs alone to hunt, how many cubs are typically born in the wild, and other valuable data.

All of these data and more, gathered through camera-trapping and GPS collaring, help to inform effective conservation initiatives undertaken by Panthera across the snow leopard’s range.

Panthera (2012, July 12). First ever videos of snow leopard mother and cubs in dens recorded in Mongolia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 13, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2012/07/120712162746.htm