DEMOGRAPHICS AND SOCIAL ISOLATION AS PREDICTORS OF YOUNG ADULTS’ AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR
The study examined demographic variables and social isolation as predictors of young adults’ aggressive behavior. Three hundred and twenty-four (324) participants made up of one hundred and forty-seven (147) males and one hundred and seventy-seven (177) females were drawn from six (6) faculties; forty-five (45) participants were selected from the faculty of Social Sciences, forty-six (46) participants were selected from the faculty of Arts, sixty-three (63) participants were selected from the faculty of Engineering, forty-five (45) participants were selected from the faculty of Education, forty (40) participants were selected from the faculty of Agriculture, eighty-five (85) participants were selected from the faculty of Business Administration in University of Uyo using multi-stage sampling technique. The participants were young adults with age range between 17-35 years and their mean age was 24.20 years. Ex-post facto design was the design used in this study. Two instruments were used for data collection; these include: the UCLA Loneliness Scale developed by Russell, Peplau and Ferguson (1978) and the Aggression Questionnaire developed by Buss and Perry (1992). Multiple regression analysis and an independent t-test were used to analyze the data collected. Result revealed that only age independently predicted young adults’ aggressive behavior (t = 2.409; p<0.05), however, there was a joint prediction of the demographic variables (gender, age and location) towards young adults’ aggressive behavior [F (3, 319) = 4.290; p<0.05]. Result also revealed that there was no statistical significant difference between young adults who are socially isolated and young adults who are not socially isolated towards exhibition of aggressive behavior (t= -1.776; p>0.05). The results were discussed in relation to the existing theories and empirical studies. Limitations and recommendations for further research were outlined.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of Study -
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Research Questions
1.4 Purpose of Study - - -
1.5 Significance of Study -
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Theoretical Framework
2.1.1 Instinct Theory
2.1.2 Personality Theory -
2.1.3 Sex Role Theory -
2.1.4 Social Information Processing Theory
2.1.5 Social Learning Theory
2.1.6 Attachment Theory
2.2 Empirical Reviews
2.4 Operational Definition of Terms
CHAPTER THREE: METHOD SECTION
CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS
CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSIONS AND CONCLUSION
5.1 Discussions of Findings
5.3 Implication of Study
5.5 Limitations of the Study
5.6 Suggestions for Further Study
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: Showing a correlation matrix of gender, age, location and social isolation towards young adults’ aggressive behavior.
Table 2: Summary table of multiple regressions showing relative Contributions of demographic variables on young adults’ aggressive behavior
Table 3: Summary of Independent t-test result showing significant Differences in social isolation towards young adults’ aggressive behavior
Figure 1: Multiple Bar chart showing the types and rates of aggression exhibited by young female adults and young male adults.
1.1 Introduction/Background of the Study
In modern times, there are varieties of behavior exhibited by youths in Nigeria which make right thinking citizens wonder if our national values have been eroded, it is common to see youths bath one another with acid while quarreling over trivial matters. Nigerians cannot forget in a hurry the activities of the Niger Delta militants/Avengers in the Niger Delta region that held sway between 2007-2011/2017 in which a lot of pipelines carrying oil were blown up and expatriate oil company workers and Nigerians alike were kidnapped. This period also witnessed unparalleled arson and vandalism of private and public property and a lot of lives were lost. These atrocities were perpetrated by adolescents as well as young adults. Just as the militancy in the Niger Delta region is dying down, the Boko Haram sect started unleashing mayhem in the Northern region of the country. The senseless killing going on there makes one wonder if there is a calculated attempt by the sect members to wipe out an entire generation of Nigerians. All these despicable behaviors which are contrary to the norms and values of the society as perpetrated by the young adults as well as adult cohorts qualify as antisocial behaviour. Antisocial personality disorder was diagnosed in approximately 3% of male and 1% of female adolescent in the United State of America (American Psychiatric Associate, 1998). American Psychiatric Association (1998) also asserted that the incident of conduct disorder appeared to have increased in USA over the preceding decade and might be as high as 6 to 16% in males under 18 years and 2 to 9% in females under 18 years.
Anti-social Behavior (ASB) is a heterogeneous construct and has been defined and assessed in a multitude of ways. ASB has been operationalised in two main ways; firstly, in legal terms and secondly with reference to categorical clinical disorders (Morgan and Lilienfeld, 2000). Anti-social behavior was defined by Mayer (2001) as a recurrent violation of socially prescribed patterns of behavior usually involving aggression, vandalism, rule infractions, defiance of authority and violation of social norms. Similarly, antisocial behavior is also defined by Hanrahan (2006) as a disruptive act characterized by covert or overt hostility and intentional aggression towards others. It refers to an overall lack of adherence to the social norms and standards that allow members of a society to coexist peacefully. According to Wachikwu and Ibegbunam (2012), anti-social behavior is a term synonymous with delinquency, it refers to crimes committed by young people usually characterized by violation of existing social norms and values. According to Lahey, Loeber, Burke and Applegate (2005), people with antisocial personalities have a low tolerance for frustration. They act on impulse, lose their temper quickly, and lie easily and skillfully; in childhood, they are often bullies who fight lie, cheat, steal, and are truant from school. They blame others for their misdeeds, feel Picked out by their parents and teachers, and never seem to learn from their mistakes.
There are no universally accepted behaviors that are regarded as antisocial as there are world-wide variations in norms and values upon which antisocial behavior definitions are based. However, based on the acceptable societal norms and values in Nigeria as apply to young adults, antisocial behaviors as listed by Wachikwu and Ibegbunam (2012) include but not limited to lying, deceit, stealing, callousness, love for fighting and violence, cruelty, promiscuity, aggression, bullying, confrontation and lack of respect for elders. Others are vindictiveness, intractability, arson, counterfeiting, hostility, greed, forgery, thuggery, alcoholism, frequent running away from home. A construct which has been studied extensively in relation to antisocial behavior is aggressive behavior (Rhee and Waldman, 2002).
Aggressive behavior is a major concern in most contemporary societies because it may inflict damage and harm on others and constitute a serious threat to the well-being of the group and the community (Greve, Love, Sherwin Stanford, Mathias and Houston, 2001). Many researchers have reported the rate of this crime over the years. In a large-scale study as reported by Kaya, Bilgin and Singer (2011), the World Health Organization (WHO, 2002) observed that the frequency of physical fighting over a 1-year period among male students at college was 225 in Sweden, 44% in the United States and 76% in Israel. Males are at higher risk not only in violence incidents resulting in death but also in violence incidents not resulting in death. One of the most significant differences between fatal and non-fatal incidents is that fatal incidents often involve guns, while fists, kicks and drilling and cutting tools are used more in non-fatal incidents (WHO, 2002). Violence incidents not resulting in death significantly increase during middle-adolescence (ages 14-16) and young adulthood (17-35). In a survey conducted in South Africa WHO, (2002) reported that only 3.5% of the violence victims were under 13 years of age while 21.9% of them were between 22 and 35. Young adults are much more exposed to nonfatal violence than the late adolescents (WHO, 2002). In 2009, the number of violent crime cases was 1,251,617, down 5.4% from 2008 and the number of homicides decreased 7.1% over the same time period to 14,558 (U.S. Department of Justice, 2009). According to the data from Anambra State Ministry of Education, Nigeria (2011-2013), a total of 6,580 (68%) University Students were involved in 2,996 violence incidents in the 257 public Schools. The report showed that occasional harm was (63.7%), bullying/threatening/interference (21.3%) and gossiping/nicknaming (15%). A total of 13 violent incidents resulting in death occurred at schools within a 1-year period. (Post Primary School Service Commission, 2013). In another study (Obi and Obikeze, 2013) observed that the act of getting involved in at least one physical fight was 72.9% among boys and 27.1% among girls in Anambra State, Nigeria.
According to Artz and Nicholson, (2002), aggression is defined as acts that are hurtful and/or harmful to others. Coleman, Fairweather and Ferrier (2003), defined aggression as a behavior whose primary or sole purpose or function is to injure physically and or psychologically. However, there appears to be a consensus that aggression is a deliberate act intended to cause harm on another person. Myers (2005) in his own submission defined aggression as physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt someone. Also, Brehm, Kassin and Fein (2005) saw aggression as behavior that is intended to harm another individual. Aggressive Behavior can be defined as an emotion that tends to hurt, harm or destroy something or someone. Bernstein, Penner, Clarke-Stewart & Roy (2006) defined aggression as an act that is intended to cause harm to another person. In case of persons, the intention of harm can be physical or psychological (Moeller, Barratt, Dougherty, Schimitz and Swann, 2001). Aggressive behavior involves conflict between individuals of equal level (Roland and Idsoe, 2001).
Resent research have suggested that there are two unique types of aggression: proactive (PA) and reactive (RA) aggression (Dodge and Coie, 1987; McAdams III, 2002). Connor, Steingard, Cunningham, Anderson, and Melloni (2004) describe PA as a coercive action used as a means of achieving a goal. Conversely, Connor et al. (2004) describe RA as a defensive response often acted out of frustration or anger that is caused by provocation. Other types of aggressive behavior are direct and indirect aggressive behaviors, relational aggression, nonverbal intimidation, passive aggression, etc. But for the purpose of this research, physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger and hostility will be taken into consideration as types of aggressive
behavior. Physical aggression is aimed to cause bodily damage. It includes kicking, molesting, harassing, biting, pushing, torturing, fighting, bullying, vandalism, destruction and gangsterism, shoving, hair pulling, stabbing, shooting (Sameer and Jamia 2007; National Youth Violence Prevention Research Centre 2002). Verbal aggression includes acts such as insulting with bad language, displaying anger, threatening, swearing and being sarcastic all in order to cause emotional and psychological pain (Sameer and Jamia 2007). NYVPRC (2002) states that verbal aggression includes such behaviors as threatening, intimidating others and engaging in malicious teasing and name-calling. Hostile aggression takes place when the aggressor’s primary intension is to harm the victim as a result of anger (Onukwufor 2012). Anger aggression is described as a feeling of being threatened or mistreated. Anger occurs in many forms such as losing a match, feeling of not being selected, feeling of jealousy, guilt and embarrassment (Bekiari, Heropoulou and Sakulariou, 2005).
Aggressive behavior is a very complicated behavior with a variety of multidimensional factors that influences it. The study of risk factors for the development of an aggressive behavior, as well as prevention factors against it is of the utmost importance. The first research studies ever conducted in this field focused on social and environmental issues leading to aggressiveness. They pointed to social inequality, poverty and the environment as the main reasons for the display of an aggressive and criminal behavior (Okami and Shackleford, 2001). However, as current research in neurosciences uncovered the biological, i.e. the genetic and neurophysiological mechanisms implicated in aggressive behavior, it became evident that both social and environmental factors are not the only reasons explaining the development of aggressive and anti-social behavior (Okami and Shackleford, 2001). As a matter of fact, what happens is an interaction between the biological and socio-environmental factors that modulate
violent behavior (Okami and Shackleford, 2001). Nelson, Young and Boye (2006) in his book have summarized the recent advancements in finding a relationship between biological factors and aggression. The major areas of interest include; molecular biology, genetics, nervous system, 5-HT, monoamines, neurotransmitters, nitric oxide (NO), the stimuli and situational factors, stress and drug abuse. Poggenpoel and Myburgh (2007) proposed a list of psycho-social factors investigated by different researchers from time to time that can possibly lead humans to aggressive behavior. These factors include: frustration, economic pressures, and exposure to violence through media, aggression in parents, uncomfortable home environment, socio-economic status, and non-compatibility with peers. Gender, age, location and social isolation are of particular interest in this study.
Aggressive behavior can have profound health and psychosocial effects on the perpetrator, victim, as well as bystanders. Children exposed to family violence may be more likely to express problem behaviors themselves (Litrownik, Newton, Hunter, English and Everson, 2003; Liu, 2004). Infants who live in families that experience aggressive behavior and violence may suffer from irritability, sleep disturbances, emotional distress, and somatic complaints (Osofsky and Scheeringa, 1997; Zeanah and Scheeringa, 1997). Children living in homes with handguns are differentially at risk for increased injury or death than children not living in homes with firearms (Branas, Nance, Richmond and Schwab, 2004). Additionally, when children enter school, exposure to violence may result in misattribution biases toward inferring negative intent from neutral or unclear social cues, which can impair one’s ability to form healthy, functional relationships (Bates, Pettit, Dodge, and Ridge 1998). As aggressive children grow older and enter young adulthood, they become at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and suicidal behavior (Brown and Finkelfor, 1986; Lewis, 1992; Rosenberg and
Rossman, 1998). Aggressive behavior casts a notable economic toll (Barling, Rogers, and Kelloway, 2001; O’Leary-Kelly, Griffin, and Glew, 1996; Schat and Kelloway, 2000). The total financial cost of violence in the United States was estimated to be $70 billion per year, with $64.4 billion in lost productivity and $5.6 billion in medical care (Corso, Mercy, Simon, Finkelstein, and Miller, 2007). While victims of aggressive behavior are at risk for psychological and emotional traumatic reactions as well as psychiatric disorders, such as panic attacks, phobias, and depression, aggressors also face negative consequences. This includes increased risk of legal punishment and, in some cases, imprisonment. In turn, the violent nature of the prison environment often further reinforces aggressive behavior in the offender, perpetuating a cycle that can be difficult to break. Frequent aggression can result in jail time, legal fees, and issues with relations and disruption to your physical and emotional well-being (Dodge, 2006). If the young adults have children in their home, they can also be negatively affected by both verbal and physical aggression.
It has been indicated that men and boys are generally more likely than women and girls to display aggression. However, it is certainly not the case that women and girls are never aggressive. In some types of situations, they appear to be as aggressive, or perhaps even more aggressive, than men and boys. It has found that men generally do act more aggressively than women do (Vierikko, Pulkkinen, Kaprio, Viken, & Rose, 2003), it should be kept in mind that the large majority of these studies, especially of college-aged women, involved aggression against strangers. There is increasing evidence that women are more likely to display aggression and violent behavior toward people they know than they do toward strangers (Barber, Foley, & Jones, 1999). This can be seen in terms of intimate partner aggression, as well as aggression against children and the elderly. Leonard, Quigley and Collins (2002) conducted a study to estimate the prevalence location and severity of aggression in one year among the community and college young adults. His results indicated that 25% of women and 33% of men experienced aggression. Jamal Akhtar and Kushwaha (2015) conducted a study to compare the gender difference in aggressive behavior in adolescence. The results revealed that the boys are higher in aggression as compared to girls. Edalati and Redzuan (2010) concluded that according to existing literature, the female physical aggression is almost equal to or higher than males but not less than males. Bettencourt and Miller (1996) conducted a study to find out the consequences or effect of provocation in aggression among gender differences. The study reveals that the men who are unprovoked are more aggressive as compare to women. Gender differences in terms of appraisals, the intensity of provocation or threat by retaliation to some extent mediates the reduced effect of provocation but, they do not show the entire details of its manipulated effect. Furthermore, the study revealed that the magnitude and as well as the intensity in aggression of gender differences are also affected by the type of provocation and other variables. Fares, Ramirez, Cabrera, Lozano and Salas, (2011) conducted a study on children and adolescents to examine the justification of aggressive acts in various social situations as a function of age, sex, and the effect of differences in socio-economic status. The data was collected from participants aged 8 to 21 by using self-report questionnaire, to measure the aggressive acts in six social situations. The results indicated that the level of aggression justified by physical and verbal aggression was more in young adults than children in many situations. The results also showed that males justified physical aggression more easily than females. Veiskarami (2015) conducted a study among males and females who are victims of physical aggression. Four schools from Iran were selected for the study. The data was collected by using Bullying victimization scale (BVS) and the results indicated that boys average score was higher than girls. Fries, Kaylor, Bares, Han
and Delva (2013) conducted a study on gender segregations in analyzing of Self-Reported Physical violence within young adults from Santiago, Chile within a community sample of youngsters (ages groups 11 - 17). The sample consisted of men and women and the results discovered that teenage women reported engaged more in physical hostility than men. The subjects established that higher levels of aggression were reported with younger age, fewer family participation, fewer parental power, less positive dealings with caregivers, having more friends who act out and use substances, having fewer friends dedicated to learning, company of date cruelty, and more experienced to locality crime. Crick and Grotpeter (1995) conducted a study on Relational Aggression, Social psychological adjustment and Gender. In this study, a form of violence hypothesized to be typical of girls, relational aggression was calculated to the sample of 491 third during sixth-grade children. Physical and verbal violence and social psychological adjustment were also calculated. Results indicated that the girls were significantly more relationally aggressive than boys. Their findings also showed that relationally violent children may be at risk for severe adjustment difficulties and have much higher levels of depression, loneliness, and isolation than their none-relationally destructive peers. Hay (2007) conducted a study on sex differences in aggression. In the observational studies and other studies that are recently conducted, it is revealed that during infancy there is a similar rate among boys and girls of using force. Boys are supposed to become significantly more aggressive over the next few years. Moreover, the evaluation for alternative hypothesis accounting for the widening of gap between the genders has been done which includes the hypothesis about normative patterns of desistence of female and escalation of male; preference given by boys for active play in order to promote aggression tendency of girls to hide their aggression; use of other alternate ways of aggression by girls increased risk among boys that are linked to aggression which may
be the risk for cognitive as well as emotional problems; sensitivity of boys towards situational triggers of aggression; and also the vulnerable approach towards the adverse rearing environments. Thus, there are mixed evidences on each hypothesis. Basically, the general differences among the sexes happen to be produced by a less number of boys who show high rate of aggression deployment. Bailey and Ostrov (2008) conducted a study on aggression in emerging adults. The outcome showed that immediate physical aggression was uniquely connected with hostile acknowledgment biases for instrumental frustration conditions while the reactive relational violence was individually connected with hostile attribution biases for relational provocation scenarios. Their conclusion showed that men exhibited physical aggression more while the women exhibited hostility more. This was supported by the findings of Onukwufor (2013) who reported a significant difference in physical and verbal aggression. Given what we know about the tendency toward self-enhancement and a desire for status, there is a universal tendency for men to be more violent than women (Archer and Coyne, 2005; Crick and Nelson, 2002).
Age is a variable of interest in this study. Many studies have shown that aggressive behavior is significantly affected by one’s age (Sharkin, 2004). Age is operationalized in the context of this study as young adults (17 to 35 years). Aggression or anger is an emotion felt by almost all of us in daily life. But in young adult age especially in student’s life this emotion can be very harmful if not managed properly. From adolescence to adulthood, aggressive behavior may escalate into more serious and violent acts, such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, and homicide. Young adults (ages 18-35 years) are reported to have the highest homicide rate (U.S. Department of Justice, 2007). In 2009, the number of violent crime cases was 1,251,617and the number of homicides decreased 7.1% over the same time period to 14,558
(U.S. Department of Justice, 2009). From about four years of age onwards to young adulthood, boys are more likely than girls to engage in both aggressive and non-aggressive antisocial behavior (Keenan and Shaw, 1997; Lahey, Schwab-Stone, Goodman, Rathouz, Miller, Canino, Bird, Jensen and Waldman, 1998; Coie and Dodge, 1997; Zoccolillo, Tremblay and Vitaro, 1996). Tantrums, over-activity and fighting occur at a higher rate in school age boys (Campbell,
1995).A unique subset of excessive aggressive behavior in young adults is road rage. Although not directly classified in the DSM-IV, it can fall under the category of Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Road rage can describe any displays of anger while driving, although such displays are also referred to as “angry or aggressive driving” (Sharkin, 2004). Both aggressive driving and violent driving incidents have increased (Dukes, Clayton, Jenkins, Miller, and Rodgers, 2001). Age is the most important factor in aggressive driving incidents, with the majority of aggressive drivers being men between 18-26 years of age (Dukes et al., 2001). Some factors that may play a role include situational/environmental conditions (traffic, congestion, etc.), personality factors, or demographic variables (Sharkin, 2004).
There is considerable evidence that male young adults are disproportionately represented among seriously aggressive young people. Male young adults are more likely to commit crime than female young adults (Rutter, Giller and Hagell, 1998). Average aggressiveness ratings are higher for males at all ages, while it differs significantly for females across childhood to adulthood (Lahey, Waldman and McBurnett, 1999). The life-course-persistent variety of aggression is much more common in males (Moffitt, Caspi, Rutter and Silva, 2001). Males predominate to a large extent in the young adult limited group also, though not as much as in the life-course persistent group. However, there is not total agreement about ‘the facts’ on male and female aggression. Some find tantrums, over-activity and fighting higher in male young adults,
while it's not pronounced among the females, others find relatively trivial gender differences. Overall, the findings are inconsistent (Campbell, 1995). Few gender differences in toddler peer-directed aggression have been found (Loeber and Hay, 1997). Crick (1996) and Crick and Grotpeter (1995) argued that much aggression in girls has been overlooked because it is in a different form from that of boys. Girls are more likely to use ‘relational aggression’, that is, verbal and indirect aggression, such as, alienation, ostracism, character defamation and gossip. A study found the same rate of bullying by school age girls as boys, although girls were less likely to own up to bullying in interviews (Pepler and Craig, 1995). Both males and females report fairly high rates of physical aggression with their siblings as children, which is, therefore, not necessarily seen as a form as maladjustment (Dunn, 1993). Evidence of increased aggression among young females is a matter for concern and requires further investigation of the causes of this increase. However, there can be no argument with the fact that male young adults are convicted of violent delinquent, criminal and aggressive acts in considerably greater numbers that female young adults (National Crime Prevention, 1999).
Location of residence has been shown to significantly determine the development and manifestation of aggressive behaviors (Wood, Wood and Boyd, 2005). Aggressive behavior among young adults in higher institutions sometimes takes the form of an over-reaction, screaming, shouting or becoming very agitated as a result of a very minor setback (Eziyi and Odoemelam, 2005). In this research location is operationalized as living on campus and living off campus. Life in hostels can be very uncomfortable and it arise the need for competitions among the dwellers; commotions often lead to aggressive and violent confrontations (Esfahan, 2008). According to Nalah (2014) Substance abuse like alcohol has been associated with violent behavior for many decades, while the relationship is the same today as it was in the past, the
pervasiveness of the association, and the consequences, are more dramatic. This is a common trend among hostel dweller to abuse drugs in groups.
Men’s aggressive behavior is encouraged due to the fact that the social environment glorifies it, displaying the trait as one that all men should possess in order to live up to group expectations (Campbell, 1994). Due to the fact that men are associated with the aggressive trait, they have the freedom to display it in public environments. In an array of sampled cultures, men have been involved in an aggressive act in public environments (e.g., sports bar) more often than women (Frieze and Li, 2010). This could be because women are not as comfortable displaying this behavior out in the community when it violates a strong gender norm (Frieze and Li, 2010). Location is therefore an important variable to keep in mind when considering aggressive behavior in young adults.
Another variable of interest in this study is social isolation. Social isolation has also been linked to aggressive behaviors (Hawthorne, 2008). Social isolation is a state of estrangement, in which social connections are limited or absent (Coyle and Dungan, 2012). According to Seeman (1996), Social isolation is disengagement from social ties, institutional connections or community participation. This can result in lack or minimizing of social contact and or communication. Social isolation involves a combination of low levels of social interaction with the experience of feelings of loneliness (Smith and Lazarus, 1993).All humans are said to be social by nature. Many theorists assert that humans possess a need to belong and that this need develops a desire to form and maintain positive interpersonal relationships (Heinrich and Gullone, 2006). The need to belong varies on a person by person basis in intensity and in how the need is met, yet a common way in satisfying the need to belong is by experiencing positive interactions with other individuals (Heinrich and Gullone, 2006). If the need to belong is not met,
people begin to feel a sense of deprivation that manifests itself through social isolation, depression, and anxiety (Heinrich and Gullone, 2006). A person may be seen as being socially isolated because of the small number of relationships they may have however this does not necessarily make them lonely (Gierveld, 1998). People who behave aggressively towards others tend be rejected by peers because they often have distorted and deficient social information-processing mechanisms. This can also be due to having hostile attribution biases and cue-detection deficits (Kassinove and Suchodolsky, 1995).
There is a relationship between reactive aggressions and internalizing symptoms in general, prior research has found that higher levels of aggression are correlated with greater self-reported social isolation (Boivin and Hymel, 1997; Boivin, Poulin, and Vitaro, 1994; Coplan, Clossan and Arbeau, 2007; Prinstein, Boergers, and Vernberg, 2001; Schinka, Van Dulmen, Mata, Bossarte and Swahn, 2013; Xu and Zhang, 2008). In a study of social isolation over time, aggression in middle childhood was associated with consistently higher levels of social isolation and across childhood into young adulthood (Schinka, VanDulmen, Mara, Bossarte and Swahn, 2013). It was concluded that this finding may be due to aggressive young adults being rejected by their peers. In a short-term longitudinal study, Boivin and Hymel (1997) hypothesized that aggressive behaviors lead to lower social preference, which in turn cause poor social self-perceptions and social isolation.
Xu and Zhang (2008) have examined this relationship separately for proactive and reactive aggression. This study of young adults found that reactive, not proactive; aggression was uniquely associated with higher levels of social isolation for both boys and girls. Previous research on social isolation and aggression suggests possible subtle differences in how these constructs operate based on gender. First, based rates of aggression have been found to be overall
higher in boys than girls, particularly overt or physical aggression (Achenbach and Rescorla, 2011; Card, Stucky, Sawalani and Little, 2008). While rates of proactive and reactive aggression have typically been similar between genders, research indicates that these different types of aggression may have different correlates for boys and girls (Connor, Steingard, Anderson and Melloni, 2003). Moreover, gender non-normative aggression, such as relational aggression in boys and overt aggression in girls, is associated with social isolation. Findings related to social isolation has been equivocal, with some studies finding higher levels of social isolation in girls, some finding higher levels of social isolation in boys and some finding no gender differences at all (Weeks and Asher, 2011). Overall, previous research does not yield a clear picture of whether gender differences exist in mean levels of proactive and reactive aggression and social isolation. Although research on gender differences in levels of proactive and reactive aggression and social isolation is mixed, evidence from Coplan et al. (2007) suggested that gender may play a role in the aggression-social isolation association. Findings from their study found that controlling for peer acceptance resulted in a significant reduction in the association between aggression and social isolation; however, after controlling for peer acceptance, aggression and social isolation remained significantly correlated for girls, but not boys. They concluded that the relationship between aggression and social isolation may vary between males and females.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The incidence and prevalence of aggressive behavior of young adults in colleges have been reported in Radio, Television and Newspapers (Caragey, Cray and Bushman, 2007). Aggressive behaviors commonly manifested by students include shouting, arson, kicking, fighting, use of knife or axe among others (Beresin, 2009). This ugly development has adversely affected the academic performance of the students and their overall wellbeing (Roberts, Foctir and Rideout, 2005). The students continued involvement in aggressive behavior has brought miseries and anguish to many parents, teachers, guidance counselors and the government (Roberts, et al., 2005).
In contemporary societies, aggression has become a commonly observed phenomenon. The society has seen an increase in the incidents of aggression/violence among young adults. It includes behaviors such as slapping, hitting, rape, recklessness, driving and shooting in school, truancy, road rage and other high-risk behaviors (Rockville, 2009). However, human aggression is not new, as violent and aggressive behaviors have always constituted intrinsic parts of the human condition (Bowker, 2012). As Paunescu (1994) indicated, humans possess a certain dose of potential aggressive behavior, necessary for self-defense and promotion of self-interest in the context of social pressures.
Furthermore, research has revealed that aggressive behavior among young adults is a pervasive problem and one that requires greater attention from educators, policy makers and researchers (Osofsky and Osofsky, 2001). Aggressive behavior among young adults can cause physical or emotional harm to others which may range from verbal abuse to physical abuse and many forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2017). It can also lead to sexual violence, including rape and sexual
harassment (UNESCO, 2017). It can involve harming personal property. According to Bushman and Huesmann (2001), aggressive behavior can take many forms, ranging from relatively minor acts (such as name calling or pushing) to more serious acts (such as hitting, kicking or punching) to severe acts (such as stabbing, shooting or killing). Aggressive behavior violates social boundaries and can lead to breakdown in relationships (Huesmann and Taylor, 2003).
Given the paucity of research on demographic variables and social isolation as determinants of young adults' aggressive behavior, this study seeks to examine whether demographic variables and social isolation will determine young adults' aggressive behavior. To achieve this, the following questions will guide this study.
1. Will Demographics (gender, age and location) predict young adults’ aggressive behavior that experience social isolation?
2. Will social isolation predict young adults’ aggressive behavior?
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to examine whether demographic variables and social isolation will determine young adults' aggressive behavior.
1.4 Significance of Study
The findings of the study will enable young adults understand the implications of their getting involved in aggression.
Parents, guidance counselors, policy makers, government, non-governmental organizations and institutions stand to benefit from the study as it will provide them with the strategies and skills with which to handle all cases of aggression among young adults.
The findings of the study will act as an eye opener to researchers who may want to embark in a similar study in future as it has provided empirical based evidence on factors such as demographic variables like (gender, age, and location) and how social isolation predicts young adults’ aggressive behaviors.