Aversive learning and trait aggression influence retaliatory behavior

T Molapour, B Lindström, A Olsson: Aversive learning and trait aggression influence retaliatory behavior. In: Frontiers in Psychology, 7 , 2016.

Abstract

ntwoexperiments(n=35,n=34),weusedamodifiedfear-conditioningparadigmtoinvestigatetheroleofaversivelearninginretaliatorybehaviorinsocialcontext.Participantsfirstcompletedaninitialaversivelearningphaseinwhichthepairingofaneutralconditionedstimulus(CS;i.e.,neutralface)withanaturallyaversiveunconditionedstimulus(US;electricshock)waslearned.Thentheyweregivenanopportunitytointeract(i.e.,administer0–2shocks)withthesamefacesagain,duringaTestphase.InExperiment2,weusedthesameparadigmwiththeadditionofonlinetrial-by-trialratings(e.g.,USexpectancyandanger)toexaminetheroleofaversivelearning,anger,andthelearnedexpectancyofreceivingpunishmentmoreclosely.Ourresultsindicatethatlearnedaversionsinfluencedfutureretaliationinasocialcontext.Inbothexperiments,participantsshowedlargestskinconductanceresponses(SCRs)tothefacespairedwithoneortwoshocks,demonstratingsuccessfulaversivelearning.Importantly,participantsadministeredmoreshockstothefacespairedwiththemostnumberofshockswhentheopportunitywasgivenduringtest.Also,ourresultsrevealedthataggressivetraits(BussandPerryAggressionscale)wereassociatedwithretaliationonlytowardCSsassociatedwithaversiveexperiences.Thesetwoexperimentsshowthataggressivetraits,whenpairedwithaversivelearningexperiencesenhancethelikelihoodtoactanti-sociallytowardothers.