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Violence Research Centre


As we adjust to different ways of living and working during these trying times, here are the latest papers involving our team and researchers affiliated to the VRC, all published in March and April 2020. 


Adolescent aggression

Aimee Neaverson, Aja Louise Murray, Denis Ribeaud and Manuel Eisner authored A Longitudinal Examination of the Role of Self-Control in the Relation between Corporal Punishment Exposure and Adolescent Aggression, which was published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence

Prior research has demonstrated the importance of low self-control and corporal punishment exposure as risk factors for the development of aggressive behaviors. However, much less is known about the interplay between these two factors, that is, the extent to which they each contribute uniquely to aggression and/or interact synergistically to create a profile of particularly severe risk. Similarly, high self-control may be a moderating protective factor that helps explain why only a subset of individuals exposed to corporal punishment develop high levels of aggression. Data from the longitudinal Zurich Project on the Social Development from Childhood to Adulthood (z-proso) were used to address this question. Students completed self-report surveys at three time points; ages 11 (n=1144; 51% males, 49% females), age 13 (n=1366; 51% males, 49% females) and age 15 (n=1447, 52% males and 48% females). An autoregressive cross-lagged panel model was used to examine self-control as a protective factor with both a direct effect and as a moderator of the links between corporal punishment and adolescent aggression across time. The results indicated that self-control was a protective factor against concurrent aggression. However, when considering the longitudinal effects, the protective capabilities of self-control differed depending on the stage of adolescence, gender and levels of exposure to risk. There was no consistent moderating effect of self-control. However, findings suggest that interventions that address low self-control are likely to be beneficial due to their direct effects on aggression, rather than by weakening the effects of exposure to harsh punishment.


Domestic violence

Isabell Schuster, Pelin Gul, Manuel Eisner and Lana Ghuneim authored Attitudes Toward Wife Beating Among Female and Male Adolescents in Jordan, which appeared in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Previous research in the Middle East and North Africa has revealed justifying attitudes toward wife beating among adults, but little is known about adolescent attitudes and its predictors. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to examine theoretically relevant predictors of supportive attitudes toward wife beating among adolescents in Jordan. Due to limited evidence on the role of gender, potential differences between girls and boys were explored. A total of 856 students (455 female) from 14 secondary schools in Amman, the capital city of Jordan, participated in the cross-sectional study which was conducted during normal school hours. Religiosity, beliefs regarding control of female sexuality, moral neutralization of aggression, and parental harsh discipline were assessed to predict attitudes toward wife beating, controlling for sociodemographic variables. Acceptance rates of wife beating ranged between 6.1% and 50.5%. Hierarchical regression analysis showed that beliefs supporting control of female sexuality, moral neutralization of aggression, and paternal harsh discipline predicted supportive attitudes toward wife beating, but religiosity and maternal harsh discipline did not. Separate analyses for each gender yielded that maternal harsh discipline was a significant predictor of wife beating attitudes for girls, but not for boys, whereas paternal harsh discipline was a significant predictor for boys, but not for girls. Furthermore, beliefs regarding female sexuality and moral neutralization of aggression mediated the relationship between religiosity and wife beating attitudes. Policy measures and intervention efforts targeting particularly harsh discipline and sociocultural beliefs are sorely needed to address this issue in Jordanian society.


Birth cohort studies

Ruth Harriet Brown, Manuel Eisner, Sara Valdebenito, Susan Walker, Mark Tomlinson, Claire Hughes, Catherine L. Ward, Joseph Osafo, Siham Sikander, Pasco Fearon, Michael Dunne, Bernadette Madrid, Adriana Baban, Vo Van Thang, Asvini D. Fernando and Aja L. Murray authored What research questions should the next generation of birth cohort studies address? An international Delphi study of experts, which was published in Academic Pediatrics.

Objective - Birth cohort studies (BCS) have generated a wealth of invaluable basic scientific and policy-relevant information on a wide range of issues in child health and development. This study sought to explore what research questions are currently a priority for the next generation of BCS using a 3-round Delphi survey of interdisciplinary experts.
Methods - Twenty-four (Round I, N = 17; Round II, N = 21; Round III, N = 18) experts across a wide range of fields (e.g., psychology, public health and maternal/child health) agreed to participate. In Round I, the expert panel was invited to freely respond to the question, “what are the key scientific questions future birth cohort studies should address?”. Content analysis of answers was used to identify 47 questions for rating on perceived importance by the panel in Round II and consensus-achieving questions were identified. Questions that did not reach consensus in Round II were posed again for expert re-rating in Round III.
Results - Twenty six of 47 questions reached consensus in Round II, with an additional 6 reaching consensus in Round III. Consensus-achieving questions rated highly on importance spanned a number of topics, including environmental effects on child development, intergenerational transmission of disadvantage and designing BCS to inform intervention strategies.
Conclusion - Investigating the effects of family/environmental factors and social disadvantage on a child's development should be prioritised in designing future BCS. The panel also recommended that future BCS are designed to inform intervention strategies.




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