“Social Goals and Youth Aggression: Meta-Analysis of Pro Social and Anti-Social Goals ”
The above phrase describes the title of the meta-analysis paper which will be summarized and discussed in this paper. The area of study that will be focused on will be sociology and psychology, particularly the relationship of social goals and youth aggression on pro social and anti-social goals.
Summary of the Research Paper
- Questions being explored
The objective of the paper is to identify if there is an existing relationship between social information processing and youth aggression and determine whether the existing relationship is a positive or a negative relationship. 21 individual studies that have similar research goals and objectives were collected. Most studies were studies that examined the associations between aggression in children and their social goals. Another thing that is common among all the 21 individual studies were their focus on descriptive and pre-intervention measurement on children and their social goals. The studies were published not later than 2010. Practically, the research was divided into two: the first group aimed to discuss the negative association between pro-social goals and aggression while the second group aimed to discuss the positive association between anti-social goals and aggression. Aside from its main objective, this research should serve as a contribution to existing meta-analytic research on social information processing and aggression to include social goals as meaningful correlates of youth aggression.
- Discussion of the methods used to identify the studies appropriate for inclusion in the meta-analysis
A comprehensive literature search was done in order to come up with the final list of studies that will be included in the meta-analysis. All sources were obtained from electronic databases through careful review of citations on strategically chosen articles and contacting scholars directly. Searches were done using the PsycInfo and ERIC databases.
- Type of effect size statistics used and any explanation the authors may have provided for the decision
In the meta-analysis paper, there were actually two groups on which two separate random-effects meta-analytic research procedures were doe. The first one examined the relationship between endorsement of pro-social goals and aggression while the other one examined anti-social goals and aggression. The authors did their research and write their paper under the assumption and having the hypothesis that suggests that endorsement of pro-social goals would be associated with lower levels of aggression (which is what will be determined by the results of the first group of studies), and that anti-social goals would be associated with higher levels of aggression (which is what will be determined by the results of the second group of studies). Aside from these two main assumptions or hypotheses there were other minor hypotheses in the paper. Firstly, studies using mixed-gender or mixed-age samples would report smaller effect sizes than studies with less particular heterogeneity; secondly, studies using variable centered analyses or those that report correlations between variables would report smaller effect sizes than those using person-centered or group-based analyses; thirdly, studies using peer-reported aggression would report larger effect sizes than those using self, teacher, or parent reports; fourthly and lastly, there would be differences between studies using Likert and studies using forced-choice rating scales of goals in goal-aggression associations and that the content of pro or anti-social goals would moderate the magnitude of goal aggression associations.
- Core findings: level of congruence/incongruence across studies, variables that seem to do the best job of explaining the phenomenon, problems with common conceptualization and operationalization, etc.
There were three main variables which were focused on in this paper and they are: the social goal which is divided into two—the pro-social and the anti-social goals, and youth aggression. The independent variables are the pro-social and anti-social goals while the dependent variable would be the youth aggression because according to the research hypothesis, the type of social goals that an individual has affects his or her youth aggression tendencies. When it comes to choosing the studies, various variables were also assessed to check which researches were qualified and which ones were not. The participant age (categorized as elementary school age—younger than fifth grade or less than 11 years old; middle high school—fifth-grade to twelfth-grade or between the ages 11 and 18; and mixed); gender (categorized as all male, all female, mixed); the type of analysis implemented to discuss the paper (categorized as variable or person-centered); aggression instruments (were not categorized but coded); goal-setting instruments; and the reaction of the participants may all be considered as variables that one can identify in the meta-analysis, at least when all the 21 contributing studies would be considered. Most importantly, the manifestation of the aggression should be considered as a vital variable. Such manifestations were coded in the meta-analysis paper as: dominance, instrumental, revenge, anti-social, relationship, fairness, problem-solving, pro-social, avoidance, and other reactions. The authors also included the individual paper’s publication status (e.g. journal articles, dissertation reports, and etc.) in the list of variables.
After the analysis, findings from the two random effects Meta analyses suggest that there is a negative association between pro-social goals and aggression and that there is a positive association between anti-social goals and aggression, which verifies and justifies the validity of the hypotheses that the authors formulated at the beginning of their study. Little heterogeneity in the associations discovered was observed across all the 21 individual studies. One important thing to note about how the analysis done however is the fact that the authors analyzed the data as if each of the 21 research papers have the same or at least almost exactly the same effect sizes since it would be practically impossible to accurately analyze data collected from different population groups that have vast differences in effect sizes. The effect sizes should be close, preferably similar to one another so that a more generalizable analytical result can be obtained. Unfortunately, this was not the case in the meta-analysis since the studies they shortlisted featured significant differences in effect sizes.
- Implications of findings for current practice or areas of research
One practical way of knowing the implications of the findings from the research on current professional practice and on the area of research is to compare the general findings on existing research on social cognition and aggression with the findings from the meta-analysis. In this study, it has been found that the average strength of the goal-aggression associations was consistent with the findings on existing meta-analytic findings on the same variable and other SIP constructs and aggression.
- Implications for subsequent research (how the findings impact future researches in the area)
A meta-analysis paper is only as complete as the body of researches it synthesizes . The meta-analysis being reviewed in this paper is a collection of 21 different papers, some of which are meta-analytic papers themselves, which means that this meta-analysis represents researches that have the highest levels of evidence. Despite this, there were some limitations that can be identified in this meta-analytic paper. Firstly, some information related to the demographic data of the participants could not be validly coded; secondly, it would be logical to assume that more variation in the aggression-goal associations might have been observed had the authors of the paper used both clinical and normative samples in shortlisting the research papers that they will focus on in the meta-analysis; thirdly, not a lot of details about the aggression measuring instruments in the individual researches was covered; lastly, the meta-analysis only focused on the goals that children endorse in specific hypothetical peer situations and not in actual peer situations. It cannot be denied that this meta-analytic paper indeed covered a significant amount of research gap about the correlation of social goals and youth aggression. However, there were limitations on how they conducted their study. This could be considered as doors of opportunities for future researches in the same area. They can attempt to make their own research with the same research goals and objectives and try not to make their research not limited by the limitations that appeared in the meta-analytic paper being discussed in this paper.
Critique of the study
As mentioned in the previous section of this paper, this meta-analysis about the correlation of social goals and youth aggression covered a significant amount of research grounds. Firstly, the authors were able to prove that their hypotheses were right-- endorsement of pro-social goals would be associated with lower levels of aggression (which is what will be determined by the results of the first group of studies), and that anti-social goals would be associated with higher levels of aggression (which is what will be determined by the results of the second group of studies). Secondly, they were able to use high quality papers—some of which were meta-analytic papers themselves, in great numbers—there were 21 individual studies reviewed in the meta-analysis. Lastly, the limitations of the study were honestly and clearly defined. All in all, the study presents valid and evidence-based findings about the research question—the correlation between social goals and youth aggression, but indeed with certain limitations.
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