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What are the individual, social and biological causes of violence?

Understanding the Causes of Violence

A core element of our work is basic research that contributes to a better understanding of the biological, psychological and social processes leading to violence. A crucial empirical basis for this research are large prospective longitudinal studies that track the development of aggressive behaviour from childhood to adulthood. This research is vital for understanding the causal mechanisms that link early development to longer-term antisocial paths. Members of the VRC are involved in conducting two major longitudinal studies:

  • Professor Manuel Eisner is the PI of the Zurich Project on the Social Development of Children, a longitudinal and experimental study of 1400 children, which currently comprises six waves of data collection from ages 7 through 15. Research questions examined in this study include, for example, the link between children's trust beliefs and subsequent aggressive behavior; the impact of exposure to external child-care on later externalizing behavior problems; the long-term effects of participation in a parent training programme and a social skills programme in schools, and the developmental dynamics of the moral neutralization of violence.
  • Dr Maria Ttofi is the Deputy Director of the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development [CSDD], one of the most important longitudinal studies in criminology, initiated by Professor Donald West and Professor David Farrington.


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