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  • Horton and Rice Assess Cultural Context of Anger and Crime

    October 5, 2012

    Psychology Professor Randall Horton and Criminal Justice Professor Stephen Rice (right) published "On the Variability of Anger Cross-Culturally: An Assessment of General Strain Theory's Primary Mediator" in the journal Deviant Behavior (Vol. 33, Issue4).  They were joined by Professors Nicole Piquero and Alex Piquero of the University of Texas-Dallas.
     
    Horton, Rice, and their colleagues situated their findings within the predictions of general strain theory, a prominent criminological theory that looks at how perceived conditions within one's immediate social environment can influence criminal activity. The researchers examined variability in the experience of anger across cultures using data from interviews and fieldwork in Tibetan communities of India and in the United States.

    Horton has been working in the Tibetan refugee settlements in India for more than 10 years. He found that Tibetan culture is rooted in Mahayana Buddhist teachings, texts, and institutions and finds little or no useful place for the human experience of anger. 

    “As a psychologist, I wanted to study how deep this Tibetan ethical rejection of anger might be,” Horton said. “Would it be apparent in Tibetan’s people’s day to day lives and interactions?  Could it be  more of an on-stage set of attitudes intended garner interest and support for their political goals?”

    The researchers examined the Tibetans’ experience and understanding of anger compared to those of a sample of American adults.   

    "Anger, general strain theory's primary mediator, is framed as a byproduct of personally or vicariously experienced strains or stresses,” Rice said. “Stresses can include the failure to achieve positively valued goals, the presentation of negative stimuli such as discrimination or violence, or the loss of positively valued stimuli such as the death of a close intimate.”

    Rice and Horton believe understanding anger in a cultural context can help predict whether anger will be shown to others and what the results may be when anger is displayed. This can, in turn, provide insight into criminal behavior in diverse communities.

    The College of Arts and Sciences, the largest college in Seattle University, offers 42 undergraduate majors, 37 minors, and 7 master’s degrees. The Criminal Justice Department is one of only seven programs in United States to receive certification by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. The department offers undergraduate degrees, a Certificate in Crime Analysis, and a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice. The Psychology Department offers undergraduate degrees and a Master of Arts in Psychology that emphasizes the existential, phenomenological, therapeutic approach.

     

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