Tuesday, 6 August 2019

School of Psychology research seminar, Wed Aug 7, 12-1pm: Prof Thomas Denson, UNSW




GUEST SPEAKER: Professor Thomas F. Denson
AFFILIATION: School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
TITLE: Four psychological manipulations that (sort of) reduce anger and aggression

Location: Room-L326 in Auchmuty Library and via Zoom link to Ourimbah HO-173

Zoom link:https://uonewcastle.zoom.us/ j/257709588

Date: Wednesday 7th August 2019

Time: 12:00pm - 1:00pm

No rsvp required

Light refreshments will be provided

Thomas F. Denson is a Professor in the School of Psychology at UNSW. He is an experimental social- personality psychologist. His primary interests are anger- driven aggression, the social, cognitive and affective neuroscience of anger and aggression, and psychoneuroendocrinology. Tom received his PhD in 2007 from the University of Southern California, after which he received a lectureship at the School of Psychology. He has won several awards for his research including the Association for Psychological Science’s ‘Rising Star’ Award, the NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Award, and the Society for Australasian Social Psychologists’ Early Career Researcher Award. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and a Fellow of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. He has received over $3 million in funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). He was an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award Fellow and an ARC Future Fellow. He is also an associate editor at Aggressive Behavior and has published over 95 articles and book chapters. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, playing guitar, and walking his fluffy white dog.

Anger-driven aggression is difficult to prevent. This talk will review recent experimental basic science research on four interventions designed to reduce anger and reactive aggression: cognitive reappraisal, self-control training, cognitive control training, and mindfulness meditation. Cognitive reappraisal involves thinking about a provocation in a less personal, more objective manner. Self-control training involves practicing small acts of self-control over an extended period, usually for two weeks or more. Cognitive control training involves repeat practice of response inhibition tasks tailored to hostile situations. Mindfulness involves acceptance of angry feelings and not reacting to these feelings.

Although my initial review concluded that results were promising for all four strategies (e.g., Denson, 2015), subsequent work from my own laboratory found that cognitive reappraisal and mindfulness are likely to be the most effective in reducing anger and aggression. The data for self-control training are mixed and the evidence is weak to non-existent for cognitive control training. Interestingly, the two strategies which rely on higher-order, abstract cognition (cognitive reappraisal and mindfulness) were most effective. These findings suggest that using these strategies in anger-prone and violent populations may prove challenging as they often lack the requisite abilities to engage in these strategies