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Executive Functioning in Provoked Physical Aggression

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Title: Executive Functioning in Provoked Physical Aggression
Author: MacTavish, Angele
Department: Department of Psychology
Program: Psychology
Advisor: Hennig, Karl
Abstract: Executive functions (EF) are higher-level control processes that regulate lower-level processes to shape complex performance. Although remaining an elusive construct, researchers have dichotomized EF into “cool” cognitive processes, such as cognitive flexibility, and “hot” emotional processes, such as decision-making. The current study investigated both “cool” and “hot” EF as moderators of the relation between provocation and aggression. Undergraduate participants (N = 224) completed measures of “cool” and “hot” EF. Aggression was measured using a modified version of the Taylor Aggression Paradigm in which participants blasted an ostensive “partner” after receiving positive or negative feedback. The Wisconsin Card Sorting Task was associated with aggression for males, but not for females; the Trail Making Test- Part B was not related to aggression; the Iowa Gambling Task was the strongest predictor of aggression for both genders. Findings highlight the importance of including measures of “cool” and “hot” EF in the assessment of aggression.
Date: 2011-10-27

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