Universiteit Leiden

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Aggression and emotions: Cultural and individual differences

woensdag 18 december 2019
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


This thesis examined the extent to which relationships between emotional experiences and aggressive behaviours in adolescents were affected by culture. To date, studies often compared Western and Eastern countries to imply influences of individualistic versus collectivistic orientations, without assessing the actual levels of cultural orientations in individuals. In this thesis, in addition to taking the between-country approach by comparing Dutch and Malaysian adolescents, we examined the effect of individualistic and collectivist orientations at an individual level.

First, the outcomes showed that many relationships were culturally universal. For instance, for both Dutch and Malaysian adolescents, those who had more problems with anger control tended to be more aggressive, and those who had a strong sense of guilt were less likely to bully. Yet, this thesis also revealed cultural specific relationships. Whereas shame was related to more aggressive behaviours in collectivistic-oriented adolescents, the opposite was true for individualistic-oriented adolescents. This finding challenged the traditional view that shame is more functional in collectivistic culture than in individualistic culture. Furthermore, this thesis revealed that Dutch adolescents reported to be both more individualistic and collectivistic oriented than Malaysian adolescents, highlighting the necessity of assessing cultural values at the individual level instead of making rule-of-thumb assumptions at country level.

This thesis hopes to spark interests in future cross-cultural longitudinal research to unravel adolescent development of aggressive behaviours and test the causality of the relationships now found.


  • Prof.dr. C. Rieffe


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Maarten Muns, adviseur wetenschapscommunicatie Universiteit Leiden
071 527 3282

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