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Int J Law Psychiatry. 2012 May-Jun;35(3):244-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2012.02.016. Epub 2012 Mar 13.

Appetitive aggression in former combatants--derived from the ongoing conflict in DR Congo.

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1
Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany. tobias.hecker@uni-konstanz.de

Abstract

Soldiers and combatants often report that committing violence can be appealing, fascinating and exciting (Elbert, Weierstall, & Schauer, 2010). This appetite for aggression was investigated in a sample of 224 former combatants from different armed groups and forces in eastern DRC. In a semistructured interview they were questioned about their military history, exposure to violence and perpetrated violence. Appetitive aggression was assessed with a 15-item-scale (Weierstall & Elbert, 2011), which was successfully implemented in comparable samples (Weierstall, Schalinski, Crombach, Hecker, & Elbert, submitted for publication). A sequential multiple regression was conducted to determine possible predictors of appetitive aggression. Perpetrated violence types, recruitment type, and joining as a child were significant predictors and explained 26% of the variability in appetitive aggression. Duration or military rank within the armed group and exposure to violence did not play a significant role. Thus, combatants reporting high levels of appetitive aggression are characterized by perpetrating a high number of violent acts, joining armed groups on their own accord and as children. Joining an armed group on one's own accord indicates pre-existing appetitive aggression. However, joining young and perpetrating violence on a regular basis seem to intensify the appetite for aggression.

PMID:
22420932
DOI:
10.1016/j.ijlp.2012.02.016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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