Ireland, J.L. and Cramer, R.J. (2017), "Editorial", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 165-166. https://doi.org/10.1108/JACPR-03-2017-0275
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited
In this edition we showcase a range of different topics, from sleep challenges to domestic violence responses, to illustrate the range of papers that comprise the broad area of interest to those working with aggression, either academically and/or in practice.
We commence with a paper exploring the role of sleep quality and aggression among a European sample. This is a surprisingly under-researched area and yet the finding that sleep impacts on aggression is arguably a common sense one. However, it appears that the perception of sleep quality is the core variable of interest and not sleep quantity, with reduced perceptions of quality associated with raised levels of hostile attributions and increased levels of reactive (emotionally driven) aggression. The findings suggest that attributions are perhaps key in considering and pointing to a clear cognitive component in understanding aggression, which could perhaps be considered more fully in aggression intervention programmes.
This paper is followed by a qualitative piece exploring the role of those involved in political protests. Its value lies not just in the content of the research but also in the method, demonstrating an integrated methodological approach to understanding newspaper representations of aggression. Using a recent political protest in Hong Kong as an example to illustrate the method, they show the contrasting representations of police in two different newspaper sources. The power of press representation cannot be underestimated when considering the impact of reporting on public opinion, public action, and the accurate recording of events for future use. Consequently, the paper is a thought-provoking piece that captures the value in using such media as a specific form of data in its own right. The integration of analysis approaches would appear to reflect that being observed across other areas of research practice, particularly in the qualitative research sector.
A paper that uses Rapid Evidence Assessments (REA) to consider adolescent violence towards parents then follows. Such assessments can be invaluable when determining the feasibility of conducting a study and/or when there is limited time available to consider use of an alternative strategy, such as a systematic review or meta-analysis. In the current paper, the authors demonstrate an excellent use of an REA by focusing on high-quality papers that were already generated from a systematic review and answering an under-researched topic of interest, namely violence towards parents and the characteristics of the families most likely to be affected. The complexities of the adolescents who perpetrate were indicated across a number of variables such as mental health, substance use, emotional management, and trauma-related challenges, with some dysfunction in wider family relationships. One area that remains in need of consideration is perhaps a more detailed understanding of those adolescents at risk of such perpetration who do not then go onto to display this. Protective factors appear an area worthy of future research to build on the useful findings of the current paper.
Continuing with a qualitative synthesis-focused approach is the ensuing paper on therapeutic alliance in offending behaviour programmes, including violence therapies. Focusing on an often-neglected area of study, namely the process of how good content is delivered on such programmes, the research provides an outline of how an effective therapeutic alliance could be formed. The value of the paper is significant since the area of treatment intervention can be criticised for not offering an indication of the mechanism of change; we can be informed that change has occurred in the variables that we were hoping to observe change in, but the process through which change happens remains unclear. The current study builds on earlier research that acknowledges the value of therapist quality in treatment outcome and the value of therapeutic atmosphere, by identifying three practice modes: educative, engagement (collaboration), and therapeutic (insight driven). Future research may be minded to explore the association between these modes and eventual outcome.
Next is a study that explores the effect of reconciliation and retaliation story endings on aggression. It outlines two linked studies exploring the impacts of aggressive/peaceful endings on a future use of aggression. The source of the story, as told to participants, appeared to have a particular impact in this study, with stories from secular sources producing more aggressive affect than those thought to be from a biblical source. Interestingly, women who were given the peaceful ending had lower levels of aggression than the women given the aggressive (retaliation) ending but the opposite effect was observed with men. A clear sex difference emerged that suggested men were not as affected positively by a prosocial ending as women were. The mechanisms explaining this were outside the scope of the study but the research is valuable in highlighting the need to explore why this apparent sex difference emerged and if, for example, it was due to a reporting bias or some variables thought to be specific to men and women that were not controlled for. An important finding not to be missed from this study also relates to the reading of violent content; focus can sometimes be on observed or heard media content whereas reading can be neglected. The act of immersing oneself into written media may therefore also reveal interesting findings as to why this sex difference was found.
We conclude this edition with a paper focusing on forgiveness, PTSD, and well-being in female victims of intimate partner violence and stalking. There are perhaps two key components of this study that are worth noting; the concept of PTSD as this can be an under-researched area, and the concept of forgiveness as this can be a socially sensitive one to account for. Interestingly, the study did not find that positive forgiveness was associated with lower PTSD symptoms but that negative forgiveness was associated with greater levels of PTSD symptoms. Indeed, holding a grudge was associated with poorer health, which is consistent with the wider literature on grudge-bearing and the negative impacts of being unable to accept an event(s) or move on from it at an emotional or psychological level. Undoubtedly it would be of value to replicate this study capturing men as victims since focus is purely on women. It is, nevertheless, helpful in highlighting the range of variables that should be considered, including dispositional forgiveness. The concept of forgiveness as a trait (both positive and negative forgiveness) is not a well-recognised one and thus accounting for this makes the paper particularly valuable.
In bringing this edition to a close, we would like to note how we are particularly welcoming of papers focusing on peace and the absence of conflict to compliment the interest we generate on aggression. We consider peace research an equally important part of the academic and practitioner landscape. Clearly, this can only be achieved with the submission of papers within this topic area that are of a sufficient high quality for our readership. We look forward to receiving such submissions.