This morning I read a really interesting article about teenagers who react more aggressively to situations due to what they think of someone’s ability to change. A recent study brought out from the University of Texas Austin shows that teenagers who don’t believe people have the ability to make conscious and willing changes to their behaviour are more likely to act aggressively in situations where their temper may be tested.
The study also showed that teenagers can reduce their aggressive behaviour by learning that others around them are able to change, and this was written up in a report released in the last few days.
We already know that teenagers who are raised in a hostile environment are more likely to develop anger problems, but this new study brings a totally new concept out into the open.
The main finding of the survey was that some teenagers believe that people are either good or bad, and can’t be changed. Teens who think like this don’t tend to think of anyone as neutral, and it can take only a small incident to label someone as bad. For instance, in the study it was found that some of the teenagers became agitated and angry when they were simply bumped in the corridor whilst walking along at school. Instead of rationally realising that it was an accident, they label the “offender” as evil and are convinced that they did it on purpose to cause harm and stress.
With over 1600 8th-10th grade pupils present in the study, from a variety of different schools in both high and low income areas of the country, the results were worrying to David Yeager, the assistant professor of development psychology at the University of Texas.
“Our findings may lead to more broad thinking about the factors that contribute to youth aggression and about methods to prevent it, even in populations not typically thought of as at risk for hostile bias,” suggests Yeager.
Teenagers are often faced with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and relationship issues but in light of this recent study it’s understandable as to why they experience such high levels of stress. Viewing the world in terms of an ‘either/or’ position rather than ‘both/and’ increases the risk of stress and anger. Perhaps the need for teenagers to witness adults being flexible is a call-out for some role-modelling on how to manage their own strong feelings without becoming fixed in their position. Teenage anger is a complex problem that begs the need for good anger and stress management education and thankfully there are some great organizations available to help!
The British Association Of Anger Management offers a range of programmes and features to help with anger, and they are widely viewed as the leader in their field – providing effective, honest and affordable anger management training.
Stress Experts is a company dedicated to providing stress management advice and emotional resilience