ANALYZING GENDER DIFFERENCES IN AGGRESSIVE COGNITION AND STATE HOSTILITY FOLLOWING SOCIAL

Open Access
Author:
De Muth, Jennifer Leigh
Area of Honors:
Biobehavioral Health
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Joshua Morrison Smyth, Thesis Supervisor
  • Helen Marie Kamens, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Social exclusion
  • aggressive behaviors
  • gender differences
  • aggressive cognition
  • state hostility
  • cyberball
Abstract:
Humans have a desire to belong by feeling connected to others. Social exclusion has been considered a psychosocial stressor that can lead to negative mental and physical health outcomes. Social exclusion can disrupt one’s sense of belonging and potentially lead individuals to exhibit aggressive behaviors. This thesis was conducted as a secondary data analysis in part of a larger study, known as The Social Interactions and Health Study. One of the primary goals of this thesis was to determine how social exclusion affects one’s aggressive thoughts and hostile emotions, which have both been linked to the development of aggressive behaviors. Another aim of this research was to analyze whether gender accounts for differences in aggressive cognition and hostility following social exclusion. To examine the associations between gender, social exclusion, aggressive cognition, and hostility, a two-group, randomized controlled experiment was conducted using a well-known paradigm for testing social exclusion known as “Cyberball” (Hartgerink, Van Beest, Wicherts, & Williams, 2015). Participants (N= 120 college students) were randomly assigned to either an inclusion (n=40) or exclusion condition (n=80). It was hypothesized that social exclusion would be significantly, positively associated with higher aggressive cognition and greater changes in hostility. In addition, it was also hypothesized that excluded males would be significantly, positively associated with higher aggressive cognition and greater changes in hostility compared to socially excluded females. These findings may point to potential mechanisms for understanding how one’s gender may lead to certain aggressive thoughts and behaviors following social exclusion. Results from this thesis may provide useful in developing gender-tailored interventions for socially excluded individuals.