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The pleasure of being aggressive in male incarcerated criminals

Ramirez, J. Martin and Millana Cuevas, Luis Clemente and Toldos Romero, María Paz and Bonniot-Cabanac, Marie-Claude and Cabanac, Michel (2009) The pleasure of being aggressive in male incarcerated criminals. The Open Criminology Journal, 2 . pp. 1-9.

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Abstract

Maximization of pleasure (hedonicity) is a major mechanism in human decision-making by optimizing behavior, as previous research has shown on both sensory pleasure and purely mental pleasure (such as playing video- games or solving mathematical problems). Our group also documented that pleasure is a major factor in decision-making in social situations related to interpersonal aggression: people tend to make aggressive behavioral decisions as a function of the resulting pleasure. The present study tried to verify whether this trend was also found in inmates. To our knowledge, this is the first investigation on the relationship between pleasure and aggression performed in a prison. Fifty three male inmates in a Spanish prison condemned for severe legal transgressions and serving long detention were compared with seventy five male university students who served as controls. They responded to self-reported questionnaires devised to examine how hedonicity influences decision-making in the case of aggressiveness. Socially conflictive situations were described, with four alternative options ranging from passive to highly aggressive response. A similar bell-shaped trend was present in both populations -aggressive behaviors of medium intensity were rated as significantly less unpleasant than the most passive and most aggressive behaviors-, even though the degree of hedonicity was significantly higher in the inmates, who rated mild and moderate aggressive responses as pleasurable. Inmates also voted for an unexpected lower of aggressiveness than controls, which may be explained by social desirability. Conclusion: the sametrend is found in both populations: mild aggressive behavior may be pleasurable to the aggressor, but only up to a certain level. But this seems to be stronger in inmates: they showed hedonicity when experiencing higher level of aggression. Such a result is consistent with a fundamental role of hedonicity in decision making.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Aggressiveness, Hedonicity, Emotion, Prison immates, Decision making
Subjects:Medical sciences > Psychology > Social psychology
ID Code:9992
Deposited On:12 Feb 2010 13:16
Last Modified:31 Aug 2011 11:36

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