Overcoming aggression: musing on mindfulness and self-control.
PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
The ability to restrain oneself from acting on aggressive impulses is arguably a crucial aspect of human functioning and interaction. Yet growing evidence in the literature suggests that people’s self-control resources may be limited and, at times, self-controlled regulation could even increase the association between aggressive triggers and aggressive behaviour. As an alternative, mindfulness practices encourage individuals to be aware and accept their aggression-related thoughts and emotions simply as an ephemeral state rather than to control them.
Across four studies, we investigated the possibility that brief, as opposed to extensive, mindfulness exercise may reduce aggression, and whether this potential effect can be separated from a general mechanism of self-control. The relationships between mindfulness, self-control, and aggression were explored in their dispositional forms (Study 1; N = 241). Then, the effect of brief laboratory inductions of mindfulness was tested following manipulations designed to either bolster (Study 2; N = 99) or weaken (cross-cultural samples: Study 3; N = 119 vs. Study 4; N = 110) the resources of self-control. In addition, the potential roles of individual differences in sensitivity to provocations (SP) and frustrations (SF), and self-harm on aggression were also assessed.
Results indicated that (i) despite one’s dispositional ability to exert self-control, the presence of a mindful quality uniquely reduced the experiences of anger and hostility, (ii) under the condition of full self-control resource (i.e., after self-control training), mindfulness induction contributed only in reducing more subtle/implicit forms of aggression, and (iii) under lack of self-control resource (i.e., following ego-depleting task), mindfulness induction significantly reduced direct physical aggression after the experience of provocation across cultures. The benefit of mindfulness on aggression appears to be more salient when individual’s self-control resource has been taxed, which operates similarly in Western and non-Western settings. Therapeutic tools focusing on the mechanism for controlling the expression of aggression would benefit from an inclusion of mindfulness-based strategies, as well as an early identification of individual’s sensitivity to different types of aggressive triggers and risks for self-harm.
Keywords: mindfulness induction, self-control training, ego-depletion, aggressive behaviour, cross-cultural
Thesis (University of Nottingham only)
||R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC 321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
||UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
||03 Mar 2014 14:17
||14 Sep 2016 12:39
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