Aggressive response strength as a function of interference with goal-oriented responses near to and far from their goal.
Cutter, Henry Sturgis Grew
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This study was designed to test the hypothesis that interference with a goal-oriented behavior close to the goal leads to stronger aggressive responses than interference with a goal-oriented behavior far from the goal. The hypothesis was derived from the Goal-Gradient Hypothesis, which states that goal-oriented responses strengthen as the goal is approached, and the Frustration-Aggression hypothesis, which states that interference with a goal oriented behavior is a frustration that leads to some form of aggressive response. The task used in this study was a toy pinball machine. The goal was to score 100 as rapidly as possible. Interference with this goal-oriented activity was accomplished with a concealed, experimenter operated control that turned on a "tilt" light. When the "tilt" light went on, the game was lost. All subjects were given an initial successful trial. On the second trial one group was interfered with close to the goal, after scoring 90 points, another group was interfered with far from the goal, after scoring 20 points. A control group was permitted to succeed a second time. Eight to ten year old fourth-grade subjects were matched on the Rosenzweig P-F (Child Form) Study Extra punitive scores and then randomly assigned to one of the three groups. There were 30 subjects to a group. In addition to the P-F Study, a projective or fantasy measure, two other measures of aggressive response strength were used: 1) a questionaire measuring the strength of punishing attitudes, and 2) a dart throwing task designed to measure the force of aggressive motoric responses. The dart throwing force was measured by the depth of penetration of the target. The P-F Study and the punitive attitude measure were individually administered two months before the experimental session, while the dart throwing force measure was given immediately before the experimental session. All measures were given again after the experimental inductions. The children were also asked which game they liked better, the darts or the pinball. It had been predicted that the frustration experience with the pinball machine would result in preference for the darts. None of the results of the analysis supported the hypothesis that interference close to a goal produces more or stronser aggressive responses than interference far from a goal. The analysis of the P-F Study Intrapunitive data indicated that the two experimentally frustrated groups became more aggressive toward thanselves than the unfrustrated control group. The results were seen as supporting the Frustration Aggression Hypothesis and not supporting the Goal-Gradient Hypothesis. It was reasoned that self-blame, or Intrapunitiveness, probably was a consequence of 1) the subjects perceiving themselves as the cause or losing the pinball game, and 2) the inhibition of overt aggressive responses in the presence or an adult experimenter. Some difficulties of applying the Goal-Gradient Hypothesis to human behavior in its canplexity were discussed. [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University.