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Keywords:

  • measurement;
  • methodology;
  • aggression;
  • displaced aggression;
  • terror management theory;
  • cognitive-experiential self-theory

Abstract

Laboratory experiments investigating aggressive behavior have operationalized and assessed aggression in a variety of ways; however, these measures are often problematic because they do not create a situation in which participants perceive potential for real harm to come to the target, there is a risk of actual harm to the target, or they are too familiar to participants. To overcome these limitations, we developed a new method for measuring aggression, specifically, the amount of hot sauce administered to a target known to dislike spicy foods. We summarize a series of experiments assessing theory-based hypotheses regarding aggression in which this measure is employed. We then briefly consider the strengths and limitations of this new measure. Aggr. Behav. 25:331–348, 1999. © 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.