It's not just what you say, it's how you say it too: Adolescents' hostile attribution of intent and emotional responses to social comments
SourceAggressive Behavior, 46, 5, (2020), pp. 425-436
Article / Letter to editor
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A highly prevalent and relevant situation in which adolescents have to interpret the intentions of others is when they interact with peers. We therefore successfully introduced a new paradigm to measure hostile attribution bias (HAB) and emotional responses to such social interactions and examined how it related to youth's aggressiveness. We presented 881 adolescents (Mage = 14.35 years; SD = 1.23; 48.1% male) with audio fragments of age-mates expressing social comments that varied in content (e.g., what the person says) and tone of voice (e.g., how the person says it). Participants' peers also reported on their aggressiveness. In general, added negativity of content and tone was driving the youth's intent attribution and emotional responses to the comments. In line with the Social Information Processing model, we found more hostile attribution of intent and more negative emotional responses of aggressive youth to ambiguous stimuli. Aggression was also related to more hostile intent attributions when both content and tone were negative. Unlike most studies on HAB, the aggression effects in the current study emerged for girls, but not boys. Implications of these results and future use of the experimental paradigm are discussed.
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