Behavior Segmentation by Boys as a Function of Aggressiveness and Prior Information


Previous research documents a hostile attribution bias by aggressive boys when considering a social situation with ambiguous cues as to the intention of the participants. The present research evaluated whether this bias extends to the manner in which boys process incoming information. Aggressiveness of boys in grades 3-6 was assessed with peer behavior nominations. In a separate session, each child viewed a videotape of 2 boys playing tag on a playground and segmented the actions using a standard behavior segmentation procedure. A critical event occurred when one of the boys fell down after being tagged, slowly got up, then resumed the game. Prior to viewing the videotape each child received one of three information conditions: benign (the boys were friends), hostile (the boys did not like one another), or neutral (no specific information about the relationship between the boys). Aggressiveness predicted change in segmentation after the critical event only in the neutral prior information condition. Thus aggressiveness, found in other research to be associated with a hostile attribution bias, also was found to be related to differences in the organization of incoming information.

Publication Title

Child Development