Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Mob Wives: Does Boxing Reduce Aggression?
Drita trying to control anger and aggressive tendencies with boxing.
Today’s blog is a lesson in psychology, based on studies, that have focused on whether or not boxing reduces anger and aggression. I researched this primarily because, after taking boxing lessons, Drita still let the first punch fly at Renee’s party. It aroused my curiosity as to whether or not the premise, that boxing would help reduce aggression, was in fact true. What I found out may be helpful to Drita, who now has to answer her daughter’s question about her “fighting history.” I, myself, have suggested anger management, as a solution to her problem, in several blogs. However, as sincere as I am in my wanting to help, I am sure no one has passed my suggestion along to Drita. But Drita needs to know and she, herself, asked on the show, "What do I do?"
I have an answer that may help.
What does the research show? Does letting off steam in the ring help one manage anger and aggression? Well, as I suspected, it showed that boxing, a highly physical contact sport, does not help to reduce aggression. An interesting experiment was conducted in 1999 by Brad Bushman, Roy Baumeister, and Angela Stack and written up in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. In the experiment, people were manipulated into getting angry. The participants were told to write essays about a sensitive topic which would then be critiqued by others in the group. The feedback was controlled by the experimenter, who assigned very poor comments to the essays to make people upset. The group was then divided into two groups; one who was allowed to punch a punching bag for two minutes and the other group, who did nothing. Afterwards, all the participants had to play a game against an opponent in which they could punish the opponent with blasts of noise. The volume of the noise and the length that it lasted, was used to measure the amount of aggression. They were trying to see if the group that was allowed to punch the punching bag would have less aggression than the group that was not given that opportunity. They found that the results were the opposite of what they expected. The group that was allowed to release their anger on the punching bag actually showed more aggression than those who did not. They determined that punching a punching bag actually reinforces anger and aggression, not reduce it. They recommended that people who are angry, actually go sit alone and meditate to calm themselves down rather than try to vent their anger in an aggressive way.
Hopefully, at some point, Drita will consider an option other than boxing to managing her anger; one that might actually have a positive effect on her behavior. Anger management techniques are known to work; mediation and yoga may be helpful; high level exercise such as running, walking, weight lifting; and various other methods to relieve tension.