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From the Laboratory to the Community: Studying the Natural History of Human Aggression (From Human Aggression: Naturalistic Approaches, P 25-41, 1989, John Archer and Kevin Browne, eds. -- See NCJ-124351)

NCJ Number
J Archer
Date Published
17 pages
Laboratory studies of human aggression are hampered by many methodological limitations, making naturalistic approaches that use indirect or direct approaches preferable.
The two main problems involved in laboratory studies are the dilemma of devising an ethical yet realistic way of instigating an aggressive response and the isolation of such studies from the social context of aggression. These limitations mean that the laboratory approach is limited to answering certain types of general questions about aggression. In contrast, naturalistic approaches make it possible to study aggressive acts in the contexts in which they occur and to understand them in relation to the wider social exchanges of the participants. Naturalistic methods include indirect methods such as crime statistics, official reports, and data obtained from parents, teachers, or staff of institutions; direct verbal or written accounts from participants, such as diaries, questionnaires, or interviews; and direct observations using ethological, ethogenic, or ethnographic approaches. The main problems involved in naturalistic studies include the difficulties in obtaining accurate information, the problem of obtaining a representative sample, the difficulty of developing and testing hypotheses under naturalistic conditions, and the importance of context in studying human aggression. 64 references.


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