Studying aggression in the field: influences of dynamics of the setting on atmosphere and aggressive behavior

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic

Abstract

Aggression in an urban nightlife setting is more
than just a physical fight or a verbal insult. Aggression
is also the tension floating in the air; changes
in which are noticed by visitors, police officers and
security guards. It seems that when this tension in
the atmosphere increases so does, the likelihood of aggressive behavior in the crowd. Although
most researchers acknowledge that aggression is
a highly context dependent behavior, to date it has
predominantly been studied in controlled laboratory
settings. These studies have been advancing
our understanding of how psychological variables
(e.g., affect, frustration) and environmental stimuli
and conditions (e.g., presence of weapons, or
temperature) affect tendencies to aggress, however
the lack of research in situ has not allowed a systematic
study of interaction between environment
(e.g. “atmosphere” and “tensions”) and behavior.
In the De-escalate project we investigate applications
of dynamic lighting to prevent aggression
and diffuse escalations in naturalistic settings
(an urban nightlife area, which is also serving as
a living lab in Eindhoven, the Netherlands). Our
research differs from existing field research on aggression
as the unit of analysis is not the individual
acts of aggression, but the changing dynamics of
the setting of which “atmosphere” is but a part. So
far, we have conducted two field studies. The first
qualitative, ethnographic study got us acquainted
with the context and the role of tension in aggressive
outbreaks. In a second field experiment we
adapted conventional methods (observations, subjective
mood reports, frustration-aggression tests)
and tested the effect of a lighting manipulation on
aggression and the tension in the atmosphere. In
EDRA we would like to share our reflections on the
suitability of these methods to study aggression
in a naturalistic setting, and discuss possible improvements
upon these methods and alternative
approaches suited for this type of field research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages192-193
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventEDRA47Raleigh is the 47th annual conference of the Environmental Design Research, 18-21 May 2016, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA - North Carolina State College of Design, Raleigh, United States
Duration: 18 May 201621 May 2016
http://www.edra.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/EDRA47%20one-pager.pdf

Conference

ConferenceEDRA47Raleigh is the 47th annual conference of the Environmental Design Research, 18-21 May 2016, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Abbreviated titleEDRA47
CountryUnited States
CityRaleigh
Period18/05/1621/05/16
Internet address

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