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Aggress Behav. 2013 Nov-Dec;39(6):419-39. doi: 10.1002/ab.21496. Epub 2013 Jul 22.

The voodoo doll task: Introducing and validating a novel method for studying aggressive inclinations.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.

Abstract

Aggression pervades modern life. To understand the root causes of aggression, researchers have developed several methods to assess aggressive inclinations. The current article introduces a new behavioral method-the voodoo doll task (VDT)-that offers a reliable and valid trait and state measure of aggressive inclinations across settings and relationship contexts. Drawing on theory and research on the law of similarity and magical beliefs (Rozin, Millman, & Nemeroff [1986], Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 703-712), we propose that people transfer characteristics of a person onto a voodoo doll representing that person. As a result, causing harm to a voodoo doll by stabbing it with pins may have important psychological similarities to causing actual harm to the person the voodoo doll represents. Nine methodologically diverse studies (total N = 1,376) showed that the VDT had strong reliability, construct validity, and convergent validity. Discussion centers on the importance of magical beliefs in understanding the causes of aggressive inclinations.

KEYWORDS:

aggression; intimate partner violence; magical beliefs; violence

PMID:
23878068
DOI:
10.1002/ab.21496
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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