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ERIC Number: EJ924288
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jul
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 38
ISSN: ISSN-0091-0627
In the Eye of the Beholder: Eye-Tracking Assessment of Social Information Processing in Aggressive Behavior
Horsley, Tako A.; de Castro, Bram Orobio; Van der Schoot, Menno
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, v38 n5 p587-599 Jul 2010
According to social information processing theories, aggressive children are hypersensitive to cues of hostility and threat in other people's behavior. However, even though there is ample evidence that aggressive children over-interpret others' behaviors as hostile, it is unclear whether this hostile attribution tendency does actually result from over attending to hostile and threatening cues. Since encoding is posited to consist of rapid automatic processes, it is hard to assess with the self-report measures that have been used so far. Therefore, we used a novel approach to investigate visual encoding of social information. The eye movements of thirty 10-13 year old children with lower levels and thirty children with higher levels of aggressive behavior were monitored in real time with an eye-tracker, as the children viewed ten different cartoon series of ambiguous provocation situations. In addition, participants answered questions concerning encoding and interpretation. Aggressive children did not attend more to hostile cues, nor attend less to non-hostile cues than non-aggressive children. Contrary, aggressive children looked longer at non-hostile cues, but nonetheless attributed more hostile intent than their non-aggressive peers. These findings contradict the traditional bottom-up processing hypotheses that aggressive behavior would be related with failure to attend to non-hostile cues. The findings seem best explained by topdown information processing, where aggressive children's pre-existing hostile intent schemata (1) direct attention towards schema inconsistent non-hostile cues, (2) prevent further processing and recall of such schema-inconsistent information, and (3) lead to hostile intent attribution and aggressive responding, disregarding the schema-inconsistent non-hostile information.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A