Female Japanese students who were engaged in a calculation task were given electric shocks by a female opponent. The subjects were informed that the opponent had an intent to shock them either severely or mildly. In addition, the opponent's awareness of the outcome of attack was independently manipulated: (1) the subjects received shocks whose intensity corresponded to the opponent's intent, (2) the subjects received shocks whose intensity was inversely proportional to the intensity intended by the opponent and were informed that the opponent did not know about it, or (3) the subjects received reversed shocks as in condition (2), but were further informed that the opponent was well aware of it. An ANOVA of the measure of retaliation in terms of the intensity of shocks delivered to the opponent indicated that (1) the subjects showed more aggression of greater intensity against an opponent who apparently had an aggressive intent than the one who did not, regardless of the actual level of shock intensity; (2) when the severe attack failed, the subjects lowered aggression when the opponent was apparently aware of it as opposed to when she was not; and (3) when the subjects received severe shocks accidentally, they increased aggression when the opponent was apparently aware of it compared to when she was not. These results led us to interpret retaliation as being mediated both by the attribution of intent to the attacker and by self-presentation to the attacker and the experimenter.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science