Date of Award
Master of Science
When individuals experience psychological distress, many respond either by internalizing (turning inwards; e.g. experiencing anxiety/depression) or externalizing (turning outwards; e.g. aggressive behaviors). However, internalizing and externalizing problems may also be co-morbid. Previous research suggests that anxiety and aggression have a strong positive relationship, and increased anxiety may be connected to increased aggression. However, there may be other factors impacting this relationship. Social information processing theory suggests that as a person reacts to ambiguous situations and chooses their response to the situation, there may be social cognitive biases, such as attention to threat or intent biases, mediating the decision process. Further, an individual's ability to regulate their own emotions may moderate this process. The present study examined the role of these biases and emotion regulation in the relationship between anxiety and aggression within an emerging adult population. Participants were Iowa State students (N=545) enrolled in an undergraduate psychology or communication studies course. Participants completed self-report measures on anxiety, aggression, hostile attribution bias, and emotion dysregulation and they completed a computerized task (Probe Detection Task) to assess attention to social threat. Contrary to expectations, results did not support these social-cognitive biases as mediators in the hypothesized moderated serial mediation model. However, these biases may still play an important role in the relationship between anxiety and aggression.
Anna Therese Wehde
Wehde, Anna Therese, "Anxiety and aggression: The role of social threat, intent attribution, and emotion regulation" (2020). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 17869.