CAUSES OF AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR

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CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF RELATED INTERNATIONAL AND ZIMBABWEAN LITERATURE ON CAUSES, MANIFESTATION AND IMPACT OF CLASSROOM AGGRESSION

INTRODUCTION

The study analysed causes, manifestation and impact of classroom aggression on students’ physical and mental health, academic performance and dropout levels in secondary schools. As indicated in the previous chapter, the study focused on schools in Harare, Zimbabwe. In this chapter, literature related to the causes, manifestation and impact of aggression in class is reviewed. The gaps to be filled by the present study are highlighted.

 CAUSES OF AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR

Literature indicated that there are several causes of aggressive behaviour among students. However, this section will discuss only two broad causal factors, biological and social factors, and how they were linked to the present study.

Biological Factors

The literature indicated that there are several causes of aggression that are closely linked to biology. These include puberty, hormones, the brain, temperament and several other factors, as discussed below.

 Puberty

Hempil, Kotevski, Herrenkohl, Tombourou, Carlin, Catalano and Patton (2010:303) and Marceau, Ram, Houts, Grimm and Susman (2011:1389) found that the pubertal stage was associated with both physical and social related aggression in a sample of girls from the USA and Australia. Susman, Dockray, Schiefelbein, Herwehe, Heaton and Dorn (2007:811) examined two causes of anti-social and aggressive behaviour, the relationship between morningness/eveningness and the morning to afternoon cortisol ratio. Their focus was on the interactions of these vulnerabilities with puberty and anti-social behaviour in adolescents.
Morningness/eveningness (M/E) refers to individual differences in sleep-wake patterns and preferences for activity and alertness during the morning or evening and, putatively, has biological, psychological and contextual components (Carskadon, Veira & Acebo, 1993:261). Morningness is also proposed to have a genetic component, although the results are inconsistent. The study by Susman et al (2007:1549) concluded that M/E and circadian cortisol changes were linked to aggressive and anti-social behaviour in children and young adolescents in the 8-13 year age range. The study also concluded that eveningness was associated with antisocial and aggressive behaviour in boys while early timing of puberty was related to self-reported Conduct Disorder symptoms in boys and relational aggression in girls. The present study sought to fill the gap in the literature by investigating whether morningness/eveningness and circadian cortisol changes were linked to classroom aggression in Harare urban secondary schools.

Hormones, the brain and human aggression

Mehta and Beer (2009:2362) examined how endocrine and neural systems work together to influence aggressive behaviour. Mazur and Booth (1998:356) conclude that testosterone is not related to all forms of aggression but may specifically control impulsive aggression in response to social threats. Mehta and Beer (2009:2362) established that higher testosterone levels predicted subsequent aggressive behavioural reactions to unfairness. The findings suggested that testosterone influences aggression through reduced activity in the medial Orbitofrontal Cortex. These findings also suggested that testosterone increases the propensity towards aggression because of reduced activation of the neural circuitry of impulse control and self-regulation. The present study sought to establish whether hormones influenced aggressive behaviour in Zimbabwean adolescents.

 Temperament and aggressive behaviours

Temperament was defined as “constitutionally based individual differences in reactivity and self-regulation in the domains of affect, activity and attention” (Rothbart & Bates 2006:100).Temperament is conceptualized as biologically based. Through interaction with environmental factors temperament is a building block for personality (Rothbart & Bates, 2006:100). Researchers have established that three broad dimensions represent the structure of temperament: extraversion/surgency, negative affectivity and effortful control (Rothbat, 2004:495).
A study guided by Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theory was conducted in the western United States. The study started on the premise that Bronfenbrenner’s theory posits that similar experiences in a given context may have differential influences on the characteristics of the person. The study tested Besky’s differential susceptibility hypothesis that proposes that children and adolescents with certain temperamental traits, such as high levels of negative emotionality or impulsivity are not only more likely to be impacted by adverse environmental experiences but may also be more responsive to positive environmental influences (Chen & Jacobson, 2013:8). This study established that impulsivity was positively associated with adolescent delinquency. There was also a negative relationship between family warmth and delinquency was significant for adolescent with high levels of, but not for those with below average levels of impulsivity. The study thus consistent with the bio ecological theory that posits that proximal processes are the key drivers of human development (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006:826). This study, while revealing that there is a link between impulsivity and delinquent behaviour, is cross sectional and correlational hence one cannot infer causality. The authors also observed that some of the relationships could be bi directional.
A recent study in the Canada was carried out to assess the perceptions and attributions of bystanders to cyberbullying (Holfield, 2014:5).This experimental study established that many bystanders(32% males and 43% females) provided external characteristics for the student’s victimization, indicating that the factors and characteristics (e.g. temperament) of the bully resulted in the cyberbullying. The author concluded that the study findings were consistent with Weiner’s (1985) attribution theory. The findings from the research are limited in their generalizability because the definition of cyber bullying is contested and the results are also affected by measurement issues (Gradinger, Strohmeier & Spiel, 2010:6). The study used one scenario to gauge the bystander’s understanding of cyber bullying which is problematic in that the measure fails to capture all aspects of the construct of cyber bullying. There is therefore a gap in our understanding of how bystanders would react to cyber aggression. This study will use qualitative research that has the advantage of ecological validity to address this gap.
Brook (2011:66) examined whether the person characteristics moderated ecological influences leading to different manifestations of aggressive behaviours. The findings revealed that a poor fit between an adolescent temperament susceptibility and parental personality type was likely to lead to higher levels of aggression. These findings complement Jensen-Campbell, Knack, Waldrip and Campbell’s (2007:418) study on personality traits and adolescent aggression. The study by Brook used a survey design as a result it fails to give detailed information about participants’ experience of aggressive behaviour and lacks internal validity (i.e. it cannot reveal why something happened) (Babbie, 2016:180; Mitchell & Jolly, 2013:286). This finding is however consistent with ecological theory which explains aggressive behaviour through the mechanism of goodness of fit (Wachs, 2015:15).The current study which employed a qualitative research design sought to find out if participants endorsed causal attributions to person characteristics (such as temperament) for classroom aggression in Zimbabwean secondary schools.

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 Personality Factors

Beitchman, Zai, Muir, Berall, Nowrouzi, Choi and Kennedy (2012:125) found a significant association between callous-unemotional traits (CU) in children and adolescents with extreme aggression and polymorphism on the oxtocin receptor. Callous-unemotional traits include lack of empathy, lack of guilt and shallow emotions. Literature indicates that callous traits are strongly genetic (Viding, Blair, Moffit & Plomin, 2005:595). Furthermore, the oxytocin receptor genetic polymorphism is associated with social aspects of autism spectrum disorder (Campbell, Datta, Jones, Batey, Sutcliffe, Hammock & Levitt, 2011:107). Frick and White (2008:362) established that there is an association between CU traits and aggressive behaviour in children and adolescents. The authors added that these findings point to a substantive genetic influence on the measure of CU traits. Viding, Jones, Frick, Moffit and Plomin (2008:20) agreed that CU traits do have a heritable component, Furthermore, CU traits seemed to show a temperament that is characterised by deficits in emotional arousal to fear and distress as well as abnormalities in responses to cues of punishment and danger (Frick & White, 2008:362-366). But later research seems to challenge this view by showing that it is the callousness aspect that predicts self- reported proactive aggression rather than the unemotionality when the antisocial process screening device self-report is used as in several studies (Ansel, Barry, Gillen & Herrington, 2015:213; Pechorro, Ray, Barroso, Maroco & Gonçalves, 2016:350). The sub factors that have been associated with the Inventory for Callous-Unemotional traits have been called into question however (Ray, Frick, Thornton, Steinberg & Cauffman, 2015:8). There is therefore a gap in our understanding of the association between callous-unemotional traits and proactive aggression. These temperamental characteristics may be linked to distinct neural mechanisms that maybe involved in the development of the aggressive and antisocial behaviour.
Blair (2010:77) suggested that the above specific emotional and cognitive deficits could implicate deficits in the amygdala functioning and neural circuitry. Therefore, children and adolescents who show both reactive and instrumental aggression show higher levels of CU traits. A study by Howard, Kimonis, Munoz and Frick (2012:1241) showed that witnessing violence mediates the links between callous-unemotional traits in adolescents, physical aggression and drug delinquency. There is a gap in our understanding of the link between CU traits and aggressive behaviour as it is unclear whether context might influence the self-reported aggression. Therefore, the current study intends to fill this gap by examining the teachers and students’ attributions of the relationship between individual characteristics of adolescent students and ecological factors and classroom aggression.
Boes, Tranel, Anderson and Nopolous (2008:677) contributed to the ongoing effort to clarify the biological underpinnings of aggressive and anti-social behaviour by examining variation in emotional processes. The authors assessed aggressive and anti-social behaviours in a large sample of normal children and adolescents in relation to the volume of two cortical regions with prominent roles in emotion processing and that have also been implicated in social behaviour: the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) and Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex. The results of this study demonstrated that aggressive and defiant behaviour is associated with decreased right ACC volume in boys but no significant reduction in left ACC volume in girls. These results are consistent with the notion that the right ACC acts as a neuroanatomical correlate of aggressive and defiant behaviour in boys. The authors did not find a significant relationship between aggression-defiance and Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex volumes (vmPC) in either boys or girls. Further, increased levels of negative emotions such as anger are commonly associated with temper tantrums, aggressive outbursts and, more generally, antisocial behaviour (Boes et al, 2008:677).

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CHAPTER 1: ORIENTATION TO THE STUDY
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.4 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.6 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
1.8 OVERCOMING LIMITATIONS
1.9 DELIMITATION OF STUDY
1.10 CLARIFICATION OF CONCEPTS
1.11 ORGANIZATION OF THESIS
1.12 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF RELATED INTERNATIONAL AND ZIMBABWEAN LITERATURE ON CAUSES, MANIFESTATION AND IMPACT OF CLASSROOM AGGRESSION
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 CAUSES OF AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR
2.3 MANIFESTATION OF AGGRESSION
2.4 IMPACT OF AGGRESSION
2.5 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 PARADIGMS
3.3 RESEARCH DESIGN
3.4 POPULATION
3.5 SAMPLING PROCEDURE
3.6 Sample Size
3.7 Instrumentation
3.8 PILOT STUDY
3.9 DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURE: MAIN STUDY
3.10 DATA ANALYSIS PROCEDURE
3.11 ETHICAL ISSUES
3.12 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4: DATA PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 BIOGRAPHICAL DATA
4.3 BIOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL FACTORS THAT CAUSE CLASSROOM AGGRESSION IN HARARE SECONDARY SCHOOLS
4.4 OTHER CAUSAL FACTORS
4.5 MANIFESTATION OF CLASSROOM AGGRESSION
4.6 IMPACT OF CLASSROOM AGGRESSION
4.7 STRATEGIES TO PREVENT AND REDUCE CLASSROOM AGGRESSION
4.8 DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
4.9 WHAT STRATEGIES CAN BE IMPLEMENTED TO PREVENT AND REDUCE CLASSROOM AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR IN URBAN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN HARARE?
4.10 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 REVIEW OF RESEARCH PROBLEM AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS
5.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
5.4 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
5.5 BIOLOGICAL FACTORS
5.6 SOCIAL FACTORS
5.7 RESEARCH DESIGN
5.8 SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS
5.9 CONCLUSION
5.10 CONTRIBUTION OF THE STUDY
5.11 RECOMMENDATIONS
5.12 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
5.13 FINAL COMMENTS
REFERENCES
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