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Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Volume 3, Issue 4
Welcome to a further edition of the Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research (JACPR). This edition brings together a range of papers, covering the diversity of aggression work across culture and populations, including adult, child, clinical and workplace settings. They also present similar themes concerning populations, methodology and the importance of accounting for beliefs and attitudes.
We commence the edition with an invited paper by Bob Bowen, Michael R. Privitera and Vaughan Bowie which discusses the management of aggression in the workplace. This brief review paper outlines the importance of applying theory to our understanding of workplace aggression. Its value lies in the distinction drawn between workplace incivility and workplace violence with the former often not discussed significantly within the aggression literature, but closely aligned to the indirect forms of aggression that have featured in our academic discussions in the last decade. Bowen et al. offer a paper that covers a range of perspectives. I liked in particular the neurobiological element to this work and the important role of the limbic system. It is also positive to see such academic discussion of such topics outside of the normal clinical population papers.
This is then followed by VanLal Thanzami, John Archer and Cath Sullivan’s work into beliefs about aggression applied to a non-western population. This paper is useful in indicating the importance of culture on our understanding of aggression and the caution that should be used in applying research from western cultures without recognition of potential differences. The complexity of aggression beliefs is apparent in this paper and the need for culture-specific measures well made. This is a core value of the Thanzami et al. paper by encouraging reflection on this important point. It also highlights the value of qualitative work (in this case interpretative phenomenological analysis) when you intend to develop a deeper understanding of beliefs and attitudes.
Continuing with the theme of cross-cultural issues and applying a similar but different qualitative method (grounded theory), is the paper by Seungha Lee, Peter K. Smith and Claire P. Monks, exploring how “bullying” is perceived by children and adults in South Korea. Bullying is a complex area of academic study and has featured as an invited topic in an earlier edition of JACPR. This is a reflection of how much can be examined in relation to this topic and the additional complexities that arise when you try and examine it outside of western cultures. What is particularly helpful in the Lee et al. paper is the focus on similarities between cultures in terms of the environmental characteristics which can influence perceptions of bullying, but how developmental and contextual factors can impact differently. The discussion concerning the role of age and how this may influence perceptions was particularly useful and provided a different perspective to that focused on within western culture.
The edition then begins to draws to a close by continuing with a developing theory of attitudes, beliefs and perceptions, but applying this to sexual violence. Irina Anderson and Helena Bissell use a general western sample to explore negative attributions to victims. They extend this to female and male victims of aggression. What was particularly interesting in this paper was the focus on male rape, an issue that continues to remain under-researched. Papers which allow for a direct comparison of men and women victims, even using hypothetical scenarios, are thus particularly useful and this is one of the core values of the Anderson and Bissell paper. Indeed, this paper illustrates how increased blame is placed upon the perpetrators of male rape in comparison to female rape, with male participants placing more fault onto male perpetrators than female perpetrators, with the opposite true for female participants. The implications for this focus again on the importance of accounting for perceptions and by covering this across populations of interest, in this case men and women, and not just extrapolating findings from studies excluding male victims.
Quite aptly we then close this edition with a paper focused on a clinical sample of sexual offenders, and their presentation post therapy. In this paper, presented by Simon Duff, qualitative methodology is employed to consider the needs of such offenders using the medium of post-treatment victim apology letters. Duff explores the concept of needing forgiveness which is expressed by these offenders, which contrasts sharply to the commentary of Anderson and Bissell with regards to blame and fault perception. Duff also highlights the importance of considering prosocial needs for such offenders and essentially linking back to the earlier papers presented in JACPR concerning attitudes and beliefs, and thus acknowledging the importance of understanding and enhancing the concepts to drive non-aggression. This paper, therefore, brings the edition full circle from our starting position of applying theories and frameworks, to examining perceptions across cultures and in general samples, to the end point of what we are aiming to achieve, namely treatment and the prevention of aggression.
Jane L. Ireland, Nicola Graham-Kevan, Michelle Davies and Douglas P. Fry