Universiteit Leiden

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Agression and emotions

Cultural and individual differences

Naqi Dahamat Azam
18 December 2019


This thesis examined the extent to which relationships between emotional experiences and aggressive behaviours in adolescents are affected by culture. To date, studies often compare individuals from different countries to study cultural influences. In this thesis, we also took a between-country approach by comparing Dutch and Malaysian adolescents; groups that reflect individualistic and collectivistic cultures, respectively). In addition, we examined the effect of individualistic and collectivistic values at an individual level. 

First, the outcomes show that many relationships were culturally universal. For instance, regardless of country or cultural orientation, adolescents who had more problems with anger control tended to be more aggressive; and those who experienced intensive feelings of anger, fear and shame were more often bullied. Also, guilt was related to less aggressive behaviours in both Malaysian and Dutch samples. Yet, this thesis also revealed country/cultural specific relationships. Whereas shame was related to more aggression in Dutch adolescents, the opposite was true for Malaysian adolescents.

Remarkably, this thesis found that the traditional classification between individualistic Western countries and collectivistic Eastern countries was not fully supported when cultural values were assessed at individual levels. For example, while higher levels of shame were related to less aggressive behaviours in individualistic-oriented adolescents, the opposite was true for collectivistic-oriented adolescents. 
Hopefully, this thesis will spark interests in future cross-cultural longitudinal research to unravel adolescent development of aggressive behaviours and test the causality of the relationships now found.

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