Grayson, R.H. (2002). Physiological responsivity in aggressive and non-aggressive pre-pubertal children. (Doctoral dissertation, City University of New York, 2002). Dissertation Abstracts International, 62 (12-B), 5963.
Abstract: Numerous studies have investigated physiological arousal and responsivity to film stimuli in adults and children. However, much less attention has been given to the interactions between these types of stimuli and the physiological responses in children who have behavioral difficulties severe enough to warrant clinical referral. This study examined physiological responsivity to age-appropriate violent and non-violent videos by measuring changes in salivary cortisol (CORT), heart rate (HR), and alpha wave EEG asymmetry (EEG). The goal was to determine whether the videos have differential effects on aggressive (AGG) and non-aggressive pre-pubertal children (NAGG). Subjects were 30 nine to 11 year old boys divided into “aggressive” and “non-aggressive” groups based on parent and teacher ratings of aggression. Data across all three physiological measures provided support for the hypothesis that AGG and NAGG boys are differentially responsive to film stimuli. Yet the nature of this difference was not fully apparent. While viewing the films, AGG boys had a significantly greater CORT response and a more asymmetrical alpha EEG response in the temporal lobes. AGG boys’ HRs to the violent and non-violent films were less well differentiated than that of NAGG boys and in a different direction. Conversely, none of the physiological measures distinguished between the groups at baseline suggesting that unitary over- or under-arousal/activation hypotheses may not adequately characterize the biological distinctions between aggressive and non-aggressive children. Importantly, the two groups did not differ in overall amount of television or level of violence portrayed in their favorite television programs. Further, the groups did not differ in attentional capacity, impulse control, and overall motor activity. Therefore, the observed physiological differences between the AGG and NAGG cannot be attributed to these behavioral factors. These findings suggest that AGG and NAGG children differ in their physiological responsivity to environmental stimuli. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)