Conflict Interpretation: A Comparison of Canadian and Italian Aggressive and Non-Aggressive Youth

Andrea Smorti, Enrica Ciucci, Anne McKeough, Jennifer Malcolm, Dawn Bremner

Abstract


The impact of persistent aggression on youths’ social and psychological well being is well documented. What is less well understood is the shaping effect of cultural differences on how such conflict is experienced and responded to. In this study, we asked youth to write a story about a conflict they experienced and describe their associated feelings. Participants included Canadian and Italian girls and boys from grades 4 and 7 who were rated by their teachers as either aggressive or non-aggressive. Results indicated that although there were no significant main effects for behavioural group or country in the description of the conflict, significant differences appeared in participants’ descriptions of associated feelings. Specifically, non-aggressive participants were significantly better at generating psychological interpretions of actors’ intentions and experienced significantly more congruent associated feelings. Additionally, Canadian participants were significantly better than Italian participants in generating psychological interpretation of conflicts.

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