Social cognitive biases and deficits in aggressive boys.
3 studies are reported which assess the nature and limits of a known bias on the part of aggressive boys to overattribute hostile intentions to peers. The first study determined that this bias is restricted to attributions of a peer's behavior toward an aggressive boy, and not to attributions of a peer's behavior toward a second peer. Biased attributions were implicated as a direct precedent to aggressive responses. The second study assessed the role of selective attention to and recall of hostile social cues in the formation of a biased attribution. It was found that selective recall of hostile cues did lead to a biased attribution, but that selective recall did not fully account for the attributional differences between aggressive and nonaggressive boys. Also, specific deficits in recall by aggressive boys were identified. The third study involved naturalistic observation of the peer-directed aggressive behaviors of boys in a controlled setting. It was found that the biased attributions of aggressive boys may have some basis in their experience, in that they were frequently the targets of peers' aggressive behavior. Their own aggressive behavior toward peers, however, occurred at a much higher rate than the rate at which they were the targets of aggression. These findings led to the formation of a social-information-processing model of aggressive behavior.
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