Collyer, Charles [faculty advisor, Department of Psychology]
Violence; Psychology; Risky
The Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island’s mission is to promote nonviolence at the national/international level through the use of education and training. This occurs through the involvement of projects which provide understanding to people on nonviolence theory and practice. Embracing this mission, my study examined individual views on violent behaviors and whether this correlated to their involvement in violent/risky behaviors.
Participants were 348 students, 120 males and 254 females from a general psychology course at the University of Rhode Island. The sample was similar in characteristics to the smaller sample of Collyer and Melisi (2008) and to the university’s student population on the main campus. Participation in this project could be used to satisfy an extra credit opportunity or research component of the course. Participants were provided with a link to an online survey where they were requested to provide demographic data. The next portion of the study provided participants with a set of 16 behaviors, similarly utilized in Collyer et al. (2007) and Collyer and Melisi (2008). Grabbing, which had been ranked 20 out of 38 in severity in the Collyer et al. (2007) study, was assigned the reference number of 75. Participants were instructed to assign a numerical value to each behavior in proportion to the grabbing behavior on the item’s severity. A series of questions asked participants about the extent of involvement in various violent/risky behaviors as well as opinions on violent/risky behaviors.
The study found that there are varying views of violence severity; from those who are tolerant to violence to those who are more sensitive. Violence-tolerant means that those participants did not consider the more violent behaviors (i.e. murder; rape) to be as violent overall in comparison to the lesser (i.e. swearing; grabbing). The study also discovered that the measure of sensitivity used did not produce a significant correlation between any of the violent/risky behaviors. There were significant correlations between violence sensitivity and attitudes on violent/risky behaviors. This may suggest that violence sensitivity is not a firm predictor of violent/risky behavior in college students but may be a relative predictor of attitudes on more complex issues (i.e. death penalty).