Date of Submission

Spring 2018

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Psychology; Psychology; Mind, Brain & Behavior

Project Advisor 1

Sarah Dunphy-Lelii

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Intimate Partner Violence is a potential result of an imbalance within a romantic relationship that comes with grave consequences. Often, abusers find that their higher status position assists them in their ability to harm someone with a lower status position, which thereby leading to higher likelihood of aggression. It is currently unknown whether or not people who verbalize this status imbalance through semantic choice will have a higher likelihood of aggressing. The power of suggestion is a strong phenomenon. Not only can semantics be used in priming to affect various types of behavior such as emotional responses (Hansen & Shantz, 1995), but they can also predict likelihood of behaving in a certain manner (Amrhein, Miller, Yahne, Palmer, & Fulcher, 2003). I hypothesize that when primed with an imbalance in status within a social relationship via the imposition of a social hierarchy, subjects will choose higher ratings of their emotional responses to vignettes and identifying with the words that result from those ratings, which represent their emotional expression. I additionally hypothesize that the variations between social relationships, such as whether the relationship is of a romantic or non-romantic nature, will ultimately influence this decision-making process as well. This is not necessarily stating that the participants will have a higher likelihood of aggression, but rather is attempting to bridge the gap between the semantic tendency to verbalize one's position within the hierarchy of a relationship and verbally aggressive behavior, which is represented by high ratings for negatively-valenced emotions followed by confirmation of identification. By bridging this gap between semantics and aggression, I am hoping to provide a potential way to identify aggressors before they aggress. The results of this experiment revealed no significance in terms of emotional ratings or for the emotional identification, but there was directionality within the emotional ratings which suggests that this line of inquiry deserves further inspection.

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Open Access

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