Date of Award

5-3-2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dominic Parrott

Abstract

Research has implicated biased attention allocation as a proximal mechanism in the association between trait disinhibition and physical aggression. The current study tested a laboratory-based intervention manipulation that targets this putative cognitive mechanism by incentivizing a shift of attention from a provoking stimulus to a neutral stimulus during a laboratory aggression paradigm. Participants were 119 undergraduate men. The sum/difference method of hierarchical linear regression indicated that distraction from strong emotional stimuli attenuated the association between trait disinhibition and reactive physical aggression. This study is the first to provide experimental evidence of (a) the relation between trait disinhibition and reactive physical aggression, and (b) a potential method for attenuating this association. These findings contribute to the broader literature by supporting biased attention allocation toward emotional cues as a mechanism for the relation between trait disinhibition and a variety of risk-taking behavior.

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