Bad News, Bad Times, and Violence: The Link Between Economic Distress and Aggression

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The current research applied the general aggression model (GAM) to explain the relation between negative societal changes (e.g., indicators of a poor economy) on aggression-related outcomes. One correlational and one experimental study tested the relationships between these variables as well as possible mediating mechanisms.


In Study 1 (N = 193), participants completed several measures to assess aggression, stress from current economic crises, and trait hostility. In Study 2 (N = 101), participants were randomly assigned to view stressful news videos (clips suggesting the economy is poor) or neutral news videos prior to completing state measures of stress and hostility.


Study 1 found significant positive relations between stress from negative societal changes and aggression, mediated by hostility. Study 2 showed that viewing stressful news videos increased state hostility, which was mediated by state levels of stress.


Overall, results suggest that indicators of poor economic times are related to aggression and hostility. These findings offer theoretical implications for the utility of the GAM in explaining how societal-level shifts in economy-related variables can influence aggression levels at the individual level.

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