Exposure to trauma and self-esteem as predictors of normative beliefs about aggression: A study of South African young adults
Wagener, Emma Faye
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Aggressive behaviour is prevalent in the South African context. This is evident in the high rates of interpersonal violence including rape, intimate partner violence and homicide. Young adults appear to be both the main perpetrators and victims of aggressive behaviour. Normative beliefs about aggression have been identified as a central factor underlying aggressive behaviour. Normative beliefs refer to an individual's cognitions about the acceptability of specific behaviours and serve to regulate actions. Despite the identified salience of normative beliefs in influencing aggressive behaviour, limited research has been conducted within South Africa on this topic. This study thus investigated normative beliefs about aggression held by young adults attending university. The study also aims to investigate whether prior exposure to trauma, self-esteem and demographic factors (e.g. age, gender and family size) predicted normative beliefs about aggression. Results indicated that exposure to traumatic events, as well as state self-esteem significantly predicted normative beliefs about aggression. Gender differences were evident in various subscales. Ethical approval to conduct this study was obtained by the Senate Higher Degrees Committee of the University of the Western Cape, as well as the University of the Western Cape registrar.