Careless Responding in Online Survey Research

Much of our recent research on relational aggression has utilized college student samples and has involved online surveys. Based on published recommendations (e.g., Huang, Curran, Keeney, Poposki, & DeShon, 2011; Liu, Bowling, Huang, & Kent, 2013; Meade & Craig, 2012), we have been incorporating various methods of detecting careless responding in our surveys. What we have found is that a substantial number of research participants are responding carelessly. In the interest of data integrity, it is clear that the use of procedures to detect careless responders are essential to include in online survey research.

For those researchers just beginning to consider incorporating methods for identifying careless responders and reducing careless responding in online survey research, some of the procedures we have been using include:
  • Modifying consent forms and survey instructions to inform potential participants that quality assurance checks are being used and that failing such checks will result in them not receiving incentives for participation
  • Including validity items or bogus items that should be answered the same way by participants who are attending to item content
  • Measuring survey completion and/or individual instrument completion time
The use of these procedures has allowed us to make sure that participants who are responding carelessly do not receive incentives for participation (e.g., research credit) and that we can easily identify and remove their data.

We have noticed that it is becoming increasingly common for authors of studies using online surveys to address how they detected careless responders and what they did with these data. This suggests that the use of such procedures are rapidly becoming part of routine practice to promote data integrity.

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

bullying hurts
October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, and the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention have pulled together some useful resources for anyone struggling with bullying or seeking to learn what they can do to help minimize its impact (see

Although work at the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab focuses on aggressive behavior among young adults and the term
bullying is generally reserved for children, we are happy to see this behavior receiving more attention. Not only does bullying take a toll on the health and well being of children and their families, but it is clear that the effects of bullying during childhood continue to impact people into their adult years., a government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is developing an active social media presence at Tumbr, Facebook, and Twitter to raise awareness and provide information about this important topic.

Daniel Deason Defends Master's Thesis

Daniel Deason successfully defended his master's thesis today, Personality and Relational Aggression in College Students: The Role of Social Anxiety and Rejection Sensitivity. Daniel's study examined the utility of the Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality, as well as social anxiety and rejection sensitivity in predicting relational aggression in college students' peer and romantic relationships.

In examining the zero-order correlations between the FFM constructs and relational aggression, both peer and romantic relational aggression were inversely related to agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability (i.e., the inverse of neuroticism). Thus, more relationally aggressive students scored lower on agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability.

When peer relational aggression and romantic relational aggression were each regressed on the five FFM constructs, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability emerged as significant predictors. Students reporting more relational aggression tended to be more extraverted, less agreeable, and have lower emotional stability.

Based on the literature, the strongest case could be made for the role of agreeableness and emotional stability. So, sequential regressions designed to take student gender and race into account were conducted. Agreeableness and emotional stability predicted peer relational aggression; emotional stability predicted romantic relational aggression.

Finally, the incremental validity of social anxiety and rejection sensitivity was tested over and above participant gender, race, and the full FFM. Social anxiety but not rejection sensitivity demonstrated evidence of incremental validity here. Interestingly, extraversion joined agreeableness and emotional stability as predictors of both peer and romantic relational aggression, suggesting that this variable may be more relevant than was previously thought.

Additional analyses will be needed to better evaluate the potential role of participant gender and race, so we will be sure to share them here once they are completed.

Students to Present to Interfraternity Council

Anger control difficulties are not uncommon among college students, and anger-related problems are often compounded by academic stress, alcohol use, and living in close proximity to so many people with different backgrounds, attitudes, and values.

Caitlin Clark and Daniel Deason, two doctoral students working in the lab, will present information about the anger management services available through the
Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic to the Southern Miss Interfraternity Council next week. We are happy to have the opportunity to inform fraternity presidents about the resources available on campus for helping their members learn how to manage anger more effectively and prevent anger-related problems.

Dark Personalities and Relational Aggression

The "Dark Triad" of personality refers to narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, three constructs with links to overt aggression and other socially undesirable behaviors. Despite the utility of these variables in understanding a variety of behaviors, relatively little is known about their potential role in relational aggression. Moreover, there may be other "dark personality" constructs not adequately represented in the Dark Triad that could be helpful in understanding relationally aggressive behaviors (e.g., sadism).

We recently started collecting data for a couple of studies examining the possible role of the Dark Triad constructs in relational aggression and how they fit into broader models of personality, such as the Five Factor Model and the
HEXACO model of personality.

These studies fit our goal of learning more about relational aggression among emerging adults. In addition, it seems that the study of dark personality constructs may be beneficial in some of our other research areas (e.g., anger and traffic psychology).

Lab Welcomes New Undergraduates

The Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab is pleased to welcome two new undergraduate members joining us this semester: Shawn Bishop and Ja'Meka Perry. Both are interested in gaining research experience to learn more about the process and support graduate school applications. We are happy to have them on the team and look forward to working with them.

New Lab Space

We received some great news at the beginning of the Fall academic term. The Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab has gained access to some recently vacated lab space in our building, which we will share with Dr. Madson's College Alcohol Research Team.

This lab space should provide students with some quiet workspace, a place for graduate students to meet with undergraduate research assistants without disrupting others, and facilitate access to shared research materials. It will take some time and effort to organize the space effectively and figure out how best to use it, but it will be very helpful as we move into a busy semester with multiple projects underway and a few more about to begin.

Paper on Parenting and Relational Aggression Accepted for Publication

Caitlin Clark, a doctoral student working in the lab, received some good news this summer. A paper based on her master's project was accepted for publication in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma.

The paper, titled "The role of parenting in relational aggression and prosocial behavior among emerging adults," continues the lab's
research on relational aggression in college students. Results indicated that students' retrospective ratings of how they were parented were related to both relational aggression and prosocial behavior. Authoritative parenting, permissive parenting, and parental psychological control predicted relational aggression. Authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive parenting predicted prosocial behavior, and participant race moderated the relationship between psychological control and prosocial behavior (i.e., parental psychological control was inversely related to prosocial behavior for Black students but not for White students).

Niki Knight Proposes Master's Thesis

Niki Knight, a doctoral student in her first year of the Counseling Psychology Program, successfully proposed her master's thesis today, The HEXACO Model of Personality and Dark Triad in Relational Aggression. She can begin data collection after obtaining IRB approval.

Niki's thesis will examine the relationships between the constructs represented by the HEXACO personality model and relational aggression in college students, focusing on the role of Honesty-Humility and Agreeableness. Additionally, she will assess the predictive utility of the Dark Triad constructs (i.e., narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) in predicting proactive and reactive relational aggression.

Relational Aggression in College Students

Relational aggression is a form of aggressive behavior in which the aggressor harms others by deliberately manipulating, damaging, or threatening to damage their relationships, feelings of acceptance or inclusion, and/or social status (Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Werner & Crick, 1999). The destructive nature of relational aggression among children and early adolescents has been established for some time, but relatively little was known about relational aggression in older adolescents and emerging adults until recently.

Research conducted at the
Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab has focused on contributing to the growing literature on relational aggression in college students. Below is a summary of three recent studies conducted at the lab.

Czar, Dahlen, Bullock, and Nicholson (2011) explored the potential role of psychopathic personality traits in relational aggression among college students. Both primary and secondary psychopathic traits predicted relational aggression, and these relationships did not vary by gender. This suggests that psychopathic traits (e.g., a lack of empathy or remorse, dishonesty, impulsivity, antisocial behavior), known to predict overt aggression, may also be relevant to understanding relational aggression.

Prather, Dahlen, Nicholson, and Bullock-Yowell (2012) found that male and female college students reported engaging in similar levels of relational aggression in their dating relationships. Students with traditional (as opposed to egalitarian) sex role attitudes were more likely to engage in dating relational aggression, regardless of gender. In addition, the acceptance of couple violence predicted dating relational aggression over and above trait anger and sex role attitudes. Taken together, the results suggest that college students who experience more frequent and intense anger than their peers, hold traditional sex role attitudes, and are more accepting of intimate partner violence are more likely to commit acts of relational aggression in their dating relationships.

Dahlen, Czar, Prather, and Dyess (2013) found that college students who described themselves as more relationally aggression reported higher levels of anxiety, depression, anger, loneliness, academic burnout, and the misuse of alcohol. The correlates of relational victimization were similar, suggesting that both relational aggression and victimization can be disruptive to college students' social and emotional functioning. Dahlen and colleagues (2013) also found that anxiety, trait anger, and personal problems related to alcohol use predicted relational aggression in peer relationships while taking students' gender, race, and experiences with relational victimization into account.

David Boudreaux Proposes Dissertation

David Boudreaux successfully proposed his dissertation yesterday. His study, Refinement of the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale, will attempt to confirm the factor structure of a measure he developed for his thesis, the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale (ATAMS), and provide additional support for the reliability and validity of the measure.

The ATAMS will be under development for some time, as David collects his data and completes his analyses. Eventually, we hope to produce a psychometrically sound measure of attitudes toward anger management that can be used to inform prevention and treatment.

Lab Welcomes Ashley Morrison

The Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab is pleased to welcome Ashley Morrison. Ashley recently accepted admission to the Counseling Psychology doctoral program and will be joining the lab in the Fall of 2014.

Ashley is completing her bachelor's degree in psychology at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana. Her interests in relational aggression and anger make her a good fit for the lab.

Congratulations, Ashley! We are looking forward to working with you.

Students Complete Advanced Anger Management Training

After completing a round of basic anger management training last month focused on learning how to incorporate anger management techniques into individual counseling, several graduate students in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi continued their training today. Today's training focused on preparing students to implement Cognitive Relaxation Coping Skills (CRCS; Deffenbacher & McKay, 2000), a brief evidence-based treatment for clinically dysfunctional anger.

CRCS is a structured multicomponent treatment in which clients learn to reduce their level of anger arousal through a variety of relaxation coping skills and cognitive restructuring. It is typically delivered in an 8-12 session package.

The students who completed today's training will have the opportunity to provide CRCS to clients in the Hattiesburg community seeking help with problem anger through the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic's anger management program.

David Boudreaux Interviewed by All the Rage

David Boudreaux
Dr. Ryan Martin, an alumnus of the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab and Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, writes a blog focused on the science of anger and violence called All the Rage. Dr. Martin recently posted an interview he did with David Boudreaux, an advanced doctoral student working in the lab. In the interview, David describes his interest in anger and how it fits into his career plan.

David will soon propose his dissertation, a validation study of the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale (ATAMS; Boudreaux, Dahlen, Madson, & Bullock-Yowell, 2014). David developed the ATAMS in his master's thesis, and his dissertation should be an important step in continuing its development.

Lab Member Heading to Wellspan Behavioral Health for Internship

Congratulations to Emily Prather, an advanced doctoral student working in the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab, who recently learned that she matched successfully for a predoctoral internship at Wellspan Behavioral Health in York, PA.

This site should be a great fit with Emily's interests in behavioral medicine. We're proud of you, Emily!

Students Complete Basic Anger Management Training

On February 21, 11 graduate students in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi completed a live training designed to fulfill the basic anger management content component required for Certified Anger Management Specialist - I (CAMS-I) designation by the National Anger Management Association. The training was designed to provide students with basic information about anger and how to integrate evidence-based anger management interventions into their work with clients at the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic in Hattiesburg, MS.

Students who completed the training and go on to complete the supervision component will be eligible to apply for certification by the National Anger Management Association.

Effects of Bullying Persist Into Adulthood

We know that bullying and relational aggression can cause significant problems during childhood and early adolescence, but it also appears that these problems can persist into adulthood. The scientists interviewed in this video from the National Institute of Mental Health describe some of the findings on the effects of bullying in adulthood.


Paper on Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale Published

The paper based on David Boudreaux's master's thesis, which was accepted for publication in May by Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, has been published. The citation is:

Boudreaux, D. J., Dahlen, E. R., Madson, M. B., & Bullock-Yowell, E. (2014). Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale: Development and initial validation. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 47, 14-26. doi: 10.1177/0748175613497039

David plans to continue developing the Attitudes Toward Anger Management Scale for his dissertation, as additional work on the new measure is needed before it can be used in clinical and research settings. Additional information about the scale will be provided here as it becomes available.