Home Mind & Brain Study Find Anger Management Reduces Aggression – But Doesn’t Increase Prosocial Behaviour

Study Find Anger Management Reduces Aggression – But Doesn’t Increase Prosocial Behaviour

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A recent study conducted by researchers at Salman Farsi University of Kazerun has highlighted the limited effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)-based anger management in enhancing prosocial behaviour among Iranian high school girls. The study, published in the Iranian Evolutionary Educational Psychology Journal, explored the relationship between aggression and prosocial tendencies, providing valuable insights into the complexities of behavioural interventions.

The primary aim of the study was to assess whether reducing aggression through CBT-based anger management could lead to an increase in prosocial behaviours, empathy, and moral identity among female adolescents. The research focused on a sample of 146 female high school students from Tangestan, Iran. Out of these, 40 students with higher aggression scores were selected and randomly assigned to either an experimental group or a control group.

Participants in the experimental group underwent ten sessions of CBT-based anger management, adapted from Reilly and Shopshire’s manual for anger management. The sessions were conducted over five weeks, with each session lasting approximately one hour. The control group did not receive any intervention during this period.

The study utilised various scales to measure aggression, prosocial behaviours, empathy, and moral identity both before and after the intervention, as well as during a one-month follow-up. The Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire (BPAQ) was used to measure total aggression and its subscales, including physical and verbal aggression, anger, and hostility. The Prosocial Tendencies Measure (PTM) and the Basic Empathy Scale (BES) were employed to evaluate prosocial behaviours and empathy, respectively.

The findings revealed that the CBT-based anger management intervention was effective in reducing overall aggression levels among the participants. However, the study found no significant changes in prosocial behaviours, empathy, or moral identity following the intervention.

Specifically, the results indicated that while there was a notable decrease in physical aggression, verbal aggression remained largely unaffected. This outcome suggests that the intervention may need to be tailored more specifically to address the nuances of verbal and indirect aggression, which are more prevalent among females .

The study also explored the correlations between prosocial behaviours and aggressive tendencies. It was found that, although there were some significant correlations, the overall effect sizes were low. This indicates that decreasing aggression does not necessarily lead to an increase in prosocial tendencies .

The research team, led by Dr Alireza Azimpour, noted that the results align with existing literature, which suggests that anger management interventions primarily impact aggression without necessarily enhancing other psychological variables. The study’s findings underscore the need for a more comprehensive approach to behavioural interventions that not only target aggression but also promote prosocial behaviours and empathy.

Dr Azimpour and his colleagues recommend integrating moral educational strategies, such as empathy training and moral identity activation, with anger management programmes. These combined interventions could potentially yield better outcomes in fostering prosocial behaviour among students with aggressive and antisocial tendencies.

Additionally, the researchers highlighted the importance of considering gender-specific approaches in behavioural interventions. Given that verbal and indirect aggression are more common among females, future interventions should be designed to address these specific types of aggression more effectively.

The study acknowledged several limitations, including the lack of a placebo control group and the relatively short duration of the intervention. The researchers suggest that future studies should include longer follow-up periods and control for potential placebo effects to validate the findings further.

Moreover, the study emphasised the need for interventions to be adapted and validated for specific populations. In this case, the measures used were initially validated among Iranian university students and not high school students, which could have affected the reliability of the results.

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