Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Appetitive Aggression & Adverse Childhood Experiences Shape Violent Behavior in Females Formerly Associated with Combat

This study investigated the impact of violent experiences during childhood, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and appetitive aggression on everyday violent behavior in Burundian females with varying participation in war. Moreover, group differences in trauma-related and aggression variables were expected. 

Appetitive aggression describes the perception of violence perpetration as fascinating and appealing and is a common phenomenon in former combatants. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 158 females, either former combatants, supporters of armed forces or civilians during the civil war in Burundi. The PTSD Symptom Scale Interview was used to assess PTSD symptom severity, the Appetitive Aggression Scale to measure appetitive aggression and the Domestic and Community Violence Checklist to assess both childhood maltreatment and recent aggressive behavior. 

Former combatants had experienced more traumatic events, perpetrated more violence and reported higher levels of appetitive aggression than supporters and civilians. They also suffered more severely from PTSD symptoms than civilians but not than supporters. The groups did not differ regarding childhood maltreatment. Both appetitive aggression and childhood violence predicted ongoing aggressive behavior, whereas the latter outperformed PTSD symptom severity. 

These findings support current research showing that adverse childhood experiences and a positive attitude toward aggression serve as the basis for aggressive behavior and promote an ongoing cycle of violence in post-conflict regions. Female members of armed groups are in need of demobilization procedures including trauma-related care and interventions addressing appetitive aggression.

Below:  Differences between the three groups regarding (A) childhood violence, (B) traumatic event types, (C) perpetrated event types, (D) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity and (E) appetitive aggression.  p < 0.05, ∗∗p < 0.01, ∗∗∗p < 0.001.

Full article at:

1Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany
2Department of Psychology, University Lumière, Bujumbura, Burundi
Edited by: J. P. Ginsberg, Dorn VA Medical Center, USA
Reviewed by: Eric C. Porges, University of Florida, USA; Michelle Dow Keawphalouk, Harvard–MIT, USA
*Correspondence: Mareike Augsburger, ed.znatsnok-inu@regrubsgua.ekieram
This article was submitted to Psychology for Clinical Settings, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

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