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Dávila,  G., Navarro, J.F., Pedraza, C. and Maldonado, E.
Area of Psychobiology, Faculty of Psychology, University of Malaga, Malaga, Spain

Aggressive behaviour has been reported being influenced by opiate drugs. Numerous studies have demonstrated that morphine and other mu receptor agonists decrease aggressive behaviour induced by different experimental procedures (1,2), although this action has not been consistently described. By contrast, the role of kappa opioid receptor in aggression has been scarcely examined. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of U-50488, a selective kappa opioid agonist (2, 4 and 8 mg/kg i.p) on isolation-induced aggression in male mice, using an ethopharmacological approach. This procedure has been shown to be useful for psychopharmacological research, enabling one to distinguish between specific and non-specific drug effects. Individually housed mice were exposed to anosmic “standard opponents” 30 min after drug administration. The encounters were videotaped and the accumulated time allocated by subjects to ten broad behavioural categories was estimated using an ethologically based analysis. The names of categories were as follows: 1. Body care; 2. Digging; 3. Non Social exploration; 4. Exploration from a distance; 5. Social investigation; 6. Threat; 7. Attack; 8. Avaoidance/flee; 9. Defense/submission, and 10. Immobility. As compared with the control group, social investigation behaviours were clearly increased in mice treated with U-50488 (4 and 8 mg/kg) (p<0.001). Likewise, threat and attack behaviours were significantly decreased after treatment with the drug (4 and 8 mg/kg; p<0.05), without affecting immobility. In conclusion, U-50488 exhibited an ethopharmacological profile characterized by a reduction of aggression (threat and attack), accompanied by a marked increase of social investigation behaviours, suggesting an involvement of kappa opiate receptor in the modulation of aggressive and social behaviour in mice. Espert R, Navarro JF, Salvador A, Simón V. (1993). Aggressive Behavior, 19, 377-383. Navarro JF, Dávila G (1997). Medical Science Research, 25, 835-837. Dávila G, Navarrro JF (1999). Medical Science Research, 27, 285-287.


Epps, J., Shaw, S., Russo, K. and Clay, D
Department of Psychology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA

In extant literature, a consistent, positive relationship has been found between the occurrence of childhood physical abuse (CPA) and adult violence/aggression. However, there is wide variance in adult aggressive behaviors among those with a history of CPA, prompting a search for moderating or mediating variables. Cognitive-behavioral views of aggression hold that one mechanism for this link is the development of skewed norms for anger expression secondary to repeated exposure to aggressive models.  Those who view parental aggression as normative may describe themselves as having no subjective history of CPA, despite recalling events that would be seen by those in the field as abusive.  Others with similar event memories may label themselves as having been abused.  As such, differential norms should prompt greater adult anger expression for persons who meet criterion, but do not label themselves as abused (Criterion Only) than for those who have both the event memory and the self-label (Criterion + Label).   A previous study by Epps, Carlin and Ward (1999) found such differences, with the criterion-only (CO) group showing greater outward anger expression than the Criterion + Label (C+L) group.  That study used a medical sample and did not test for mediators.  The present study used a college student sample to replicate these findings, and to test for perception of aggressive norms as a potential mediator.  Participants (n=447) were screened using the Emotional and Physical Abuse (EPAB) Questionnaire, and were asked if they viewed themselves as having been physically abused.  They were also administered Buss & Perry’s Aggression Questionnaire and Spielberger’s State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory, and modified versions of those questionnaires soliciting the participant’s same gender norms of aggression.  The CO group reported themselves to be more physically aggressive and to have more suppressed anger than did a non-abused (NA) control group.  The C+L did not differ from the NA group.   When participants’ same gender norms for physical aggression and suppressed anger were covaried out, the CO group did not differ from the NA group.  Perceived norms for aggressive behavior mediated the relationship between abuse status and adult anger expression, supporting a cognitive behavioral view of aggression.


Kamal, K.B.H.
Biology Department, Faculty of Science, King Abdul-Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Anxiety may be considered as a form of danger anticipation. The condition leads to  precautions being taken and (if necessary) means of defense being employed to avoid or negate the danger. Many studies have been carried out on laboratory  mice to assess their strategies for identifying and escaping from predators. The first line of defense against predation involves the ability of the prey to identify signals as being associated with the presence of danger. The present studies were carried out on mature female Swiss mice around 90 days of age. A test arena (60 x 60 x 30 cm) was connected with a mouse cage (30 x 20 x 20 cm) via an opaque tube, 10cm long and 5cm in diameter. The apparatus was designed in order to assess the responses of laboratory mice to the presence of cues from predators. The behaviour of  mice that are familiar with their environment strongly reflects their need to explore. This changes if they become anxious. Subjects were exposed to stimuli such as predator odour (e.g. the smell of cat faeces)  and intermittent tape-recorded sounds  (the cries of predatory birds e.g. Strix aluco and Falco tiniculus), in order to  examine their avoidance responses. The latency before they entered the arena and the total time they spent in there were respectively extended and decreased in comparison with control groups (not exposed to such cues). There was also an increase in the number of times the head of the animal emerged from the tube into the arena, a measure that is generally interpreted as an increase in risk assessment. Mice also increased the number of times they stopped moving and increased their allogrooming in the presence of Tawny Owl sounds. All these changes seem to be logical responses to increased predatory threat and may be useful in assessing the effects of anxiolytic and panicolytic drugs.

P-13.- A computer-based data log for describing samples of maltreated children

Knutson, J.K. and Sternberg*, K.
Department of Psychology, The University of Iowa, Iowa, USA. * National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Section on Social and Emotional Development, Bethesda, USA

One of the major problems in making inferences from existing research on child maltreatment has been the inadequate description of samples and lack of a systematic approach to operationally defining child maltreatment. This failure of the research literature to develop a framework for describing samples and defining maltreatment led to one of the recommendations offered by the National Research Council Panel on Research on Child Abuse and Neglect (1993). That recommendation was a call for a more systematic approach to developing empirically-based operational definitions of maltreatment and a more comprehensive description of abused samples.  In part in response to this recommendation, and in part by the needs expressed by scientific review panels of funding agencies, several U.S. child health and child welfare agencies that fund abuse-related research initiated an interagency task force to develop a framework for describing maltreated samples and defining that maltreatment. By bringing together several panels of experts in the areas of research on physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and psychological abuse over a four year period, a set of preliminary guidelines were established that detailed the ideal set of data that should be obtained in studies of child maltreatment. After revising these preliminary guidelines, a computer-based data log system was developed to permit the recording of a common set of variables to permit comparisons among studies and the aggregation of data sets from different sites.  This computer software, soon to be available from NICHD for a nominal cost will be described in this presentation.

P-14.-Study of the effects of hypericum perforatum on pain induced aggression

Piper,  B.J.,  Davis, D., Mapes, R., Hall, E., Hill, D., Bercaw, E. and Renfrew, J.W.
Department  of Psychology, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, USA.

Extracts of hypericum perforatum (HYP), commonly known as Saint John's wort, are reported to improve mood among people suffering from depression, and this common medicinal herb has become increasingly popular for treatment of a number of psychological problems. In vitro studies of the neurotransmitters affected by HYP have yielded varied results, including suggestions of an inhibition of serotonin reuptake. It has been reported that antidepressants with a serotinergic mechanism inhibit aggressive behaviors and also that HYP attenuates social isolation aggression in mice. The present report considers the role of HYP on shock induced fighting in rats. Results of a preliminary study suggested a reduction in the percentage of fights following shock. In a second, better controlled replication effort, three pairs of Long-Evans rats received daily ip injections of a vehicle control solution for two weeks followed by three weeks of 0.5ml/kg HYP. Daily foot shock induced fighting assessments revealed an increase in the percentage of fights following shock after HYP administration. The frequency and duration of fights were also elevated. The study was expanded to a between subject-intra subject design in a third experiment to include three HYP and four control pairs. Results were less consistent but suggestive  of a bimodal effect over time, with an increase in fighting in the experimental  subjects by the end of testing, compared to the controls. Taken together, these observations provide little support for HYP as a consistent, long term contributer to the control of aggression, possibly because of the particular changes in the neurotransmitter mechanisms associated with its use. Further work is in progress to identify the neurotransmitter systems influenced by HYP. 

P-15.- Domestically Violent Men: Cognitive Processing Patterns in Response to Social Interactions

Porter, A., Epps, J., Anderson, D. and Granucci, B
Department of  Psychology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA.

Much of the current research in the area of domestic violence against one’s intimate partner, or battering, has it's roots in the research base established for cognitive and behavioral processes and aggression. The Social Information-Processing theory is a commonly used model in this area which outlines a series of steps which precede a behavioral response.  The steps are (1) encoding cues, (2) interpretation, (3) response consideration, (4) response decision, and (5) enactment.  Biased or deficient processing at each of the steps will contribute to deviant or aggressive behavior.  Skillful processing at each step will lead to socially competent performance within the situation.The current study examined the social skills of fifty-four domestically violent and nonviolent men.  The participants read thirteen scenarios depicting problematic hypothetical situations involving either the participant or his wife, or the participant and a non-intimate female associate.  Open-ended reports of behavioral response were rated for presence of skillful processing at various steps within the model.   Differences were found between the violent and nonviolent groups at certain processing steps. Domestically violent men were less likely to attribute the cause of the negative interaction to nonhostile social cues than their nonviolent counterparts.  They were less likely to attribute the cause of the problem to circumstances beyond the other person’s control.  Domestically violent men were also less likely to choose a prosocial response option, such as proposing a problem-solving strategy or using open direct communication than their nonviolent counterparts. They were more likely to choose a response that was inept, such as sulking or doing nothing.  In addition, when asked to recall information about the social interaction, violent men had more difficulty remembering critical details of the interaction.  These processing patterns were similar in both types of social relationships.  In addition, the patterns were similar regardless of the level of negative emotional arousal. Based on the results of this study, it is suggested that treatment for domestically violent men include training in social cue reading and recall, and behavioral role plays of prosocial interactions.  

P-16.-Religion and Different Types of Aggression: The Cases of India and Israel

Österman, K., Björkqvist, K., Landau*, S.F. and Oommen**, T.K.
Åbo Akademi University, Vasa, Finland. *New Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. **Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

The use of physical, verbal, and indirect aggression in interpersonal conflict was investigated among 677 Indian and 630 Israeli adolescnets of three age groups (8, 11, and 15 years of age) of different religious background: Hindu (n=411), Muslim (n=87), and Sikh (n=179) in Delhi, U.P., India and secular (n=335) and ortodox (295) Jews in Jerusalem, Israel. Aggressive behavior was measured with the Direct & Indirect Aggression Scales (DIAS; Björkqvist, Lagerspetz, & Österman, 1992), based on peer estimations. Findings varied to some extent from previous findings with the same methodology in Western countries. Indian boys displayed all three types of aggression significantly more than Indian girls. Physical aggression diminished by age while verbal and indirect aggression reached it's peak at age 11. Sikhs were significantly more physically aggressive than Hindus or Muslims, but in the cases of verbal and indirect aggression, there was no difference between the ethnic groups. In the case of girls, there were no differences between the ethnic groups on any of the three kinds of aggression. With respect to boys there was no difference between the ethnic groups regarding verbal or indirect aggression, but Sikh boys were found to be more physically aggressive than both Hindu and Muslim boys. Israeli boys were both physically and verbally more aggressive than Israeli girls. On indirect aggression, there was no sex difference. At the age of 11, Israelis reached the highest scores on all three types of aggression. Secular Jews were significantly more indirectly aggressive than orthodox Jews. There was no difference between the two groups on physical or verbal aggression.


P-17.- Featuring domestic stockholm syndrome: a cognitive bond of protection in battered women

Montero-Gomez, A
Sociedad Española de Psicología de la Violencia, Madrid, Spain

An etiological hypothesis for conceptualising a new psychopathological category, the Domestic Stockholm Syndrome (DSS), is presented.  DSS comes from the application of a theoretical model for the classical Stockholm Syndrome, developed by the author, to the context of battered women in a domestic environment. DSS will be described as an interpersonal bond of protection built between victim woman and aggressor, within a traumatic and stimuli restricted environment, through the induction of a mental model, of cognitive nature and contextual anchoring, that will be aimed at the victim’s physiological and behavioural balance recovering and psychological integrity protection. The feature of the syndrome would be determined by a pattern of cognitive changes, its adaptive functionality, and its terminal course as a result of a psychological reactive process in the victims through several phases. According to our theoretic model, these phases would be: trigger, reorientation, coping and adaptation. In the trigger phase, the first thrashings will break a secure setting previously built on an affective relationship where the woman had placed her trust and expectations: these will produce a general disorientation pattern, lost of referents, an acute stress reaction and even depression. In the reorientation phase, the woman searches for new referents of future and tries to build a cognitive reordering based on the principle of attitudinal congruence, everything in order to avoid dissonance between her conduct of election and compromise with her partner and the traumatic situation she is living. During the phase of coping the woman self-blames by the situation and tries to find ways to protect her self-esteem and to manage the traumatic situation. Finally, she goes to the last phase of adaptation, where she assumes her husband’s mental model and projects the guilt outside the domestic milieu of the couple; there, the Stockholm Syndrome emerges around the induced mental model.

P-18.-MDMA (“ecstasy”) administration provokes changes in the temporal and sequential structure of the agonistic behaviour in male mice

Maldonado, E., Dávila, G.  and  Navarro, J.F.
Area of Psychobiology, Faculty of Psychology, University of Malaga, Spain

D-amphetamine administration provokes changes in the structure of the agonistic benavior of mice (1). Recently, it has been found that 3-4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), a synthetic amphetamine derivative popularly known as “ecstasy”, exhibits a behavioural profile characterized by a reduction of aggression (threat and attack) without a concomitant incrase of immobility, accompanied by a decrease of social investigation and an increment of exploration from a distance, avoidance/flee and defense/submission behaviours, especially at high doses (5-20 mg/kg) (2). The aim of this study was analyze the effect of three acute doses of MDMA (0.5, 1.25 and 2.5 mg/kg, i.p.) on the temporal structure of the agonistic behaviour of male mice using a model of isolation-induced aggression. For this purpose, individually housed mice were exposed to anosmic “standard opponents” 30 min after drug administration. The encounters were videotaped and the accumulated time allocated bay subjects to ten broad behavioural categories was estimated using an ethologically based analysis. The names of categories were aas follows: 1. Body care; 2. Digging; 3. Non social exploration; 4. Exploration from a distance; 5. Social investigation; 6. Threat; 7. Attack; 8. Avoidance/flee; 9. Defense/submission, and 10. Immobility. The parameters examined were frequency, total and mean duration of each behavioural category, including latency of attack, inter-attack intervals and temporal distribution of attacks. Results showed that the frequency, total and mean duration of aggressive behaviour (threat and attack) were not significantly affected by MDMA. However, the temporal analysis of “Attack” revealed a temporal redistribution of the attacks to later in the course of the social encounters, in concordance with other studies using d-amphetamine (1). On the other hand, MDMA (0.5 and 1.25 mg/kg) provoked a decrease in the number of veri short (0.1-2.5 s) inter-attack intervals, as compared with the control group, a result which clearly contrasts with those described with d-amphetamine. Moro M et al. (1997). Pharmacology Biochemistry & Behavior, 56, 47-54. Navarro JF, Maldonado E (1999). Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 23, 327-334.

P-19.- Self  versus other reported measures of aggressiveness in children

Masala C.,  Petretto D., Rotondo B. and Preti A.
Department of Psychology, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy

Measures of aggresiveness in children are thought to be predictive of antisocial and deviant behavior in adulthood. This prediction mostly bases on evaluation by third persons, whereas the child¹s view on own aggressive potential often is neglected. On the other hand, the acknowledgment of one¹s own unfit inclinations holds preliminary relevance to any intervention aimed at improvement. We used a renewed Italian version of the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory (BDHI) in a sample of 392 (m = 210; f = 182) school-aged children (aged on average 11 y, range 10 to 15). We compared children Œs BDHI scores with those drawn out teacher¹s ratings on a check-list, measuring maladjusted and aggressive behaviors of children, and on a dichotomous judgement (aggressive/not aggressive). Our version of BDHI proved good face validity: all children completed the inventory, with a good understanding of questions (Cronbach¹s alpha = .88). Males showed higher BDHI scores than females (p < .005), particularly on Aggression and Indirect Hostility sub-scales. However, we found only a scarce (r = .15 in both genders) relationship between children¹s BDHI scores and those of teacher¹s check-list on antisocial behavior. Moreover, BDHI scores did not discriminate against the teacher dichotomous judgement on aggressive behavior. Our results suggest that a substantial divergence separate one¹s own evaluation and that of third parties as far as aggressive behavior is concerned. Though self-reported measures bear inherent limitations, we feel confident that our results renew the importance of taking into account the point of view of the child when evaluating aggressive behavior and minsconduct. Recent studies, indeed, stressed the links between  aggressiveness and the risk of premature death, and self-reported measures of aggression have been found predictive of suicide risk, even in adolescent samples, strengthening their value for prevention.