8th Alps-Adria Psychology Conference
October 2-4, 2008, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Local validation study of the Italian
version of the Aggression
Questionnaire (AQ) in Southern Italy
M. Sommantico, M. Osorio Guzmàn, S. Parrello, B. De Rosa, A.R. Donizzetti
Dipartimento di Scienze Relazionali G. Iacono
Corso di Laurea in Psicologia dei processi relazionali e di sviluppo
Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
INTRODUCTION
The Buss and Perry AQ (1992) remains even today one of the most widely used
instruments in the evaluation of different levels of aggression in young adult
and adolescent populations. The original version was validated across a sample
of 1253 subjects and composed of 29 items, according to four factors:
the first two, physical aggression (9 items) and verbal aggression (5 items)
represent the functional or motor component of aggressive behavior;
rage (7 items), the affective component of aggressive behavior, includes
physiological arousal as well as the preparation for aggressive action;
hostility (8 items) then represents the cognitive component of aggressive behavior.
A strong correlation between physical aggression and verbal aggression emerges in
the AQ validation study (Buss, Perry, 1992) as well as a moderate correlation
with hostility; rage is significantly correlated with the remaining three factors.
As noted, this version is quite reliable in evaluating the components of
aggression.
In terms of the AQ validation in other countries, many studies have been
conducted in Europe, the Americas and Japan:
- the majority of this studies (that used non-clinical subjects from student
populations) support the four-factor structure of the AQ in terms of the
internal coherence and the temporal stability of the single sub-scales in
their reliability analysis, components and convergent validity (GarciaLéon et al., 2002; von Collani, Werner, 2005; Ando, 1999);
- some of these studies underscore the AQ would be strengthened by the
removal of some items, specifically the two with inverted scores
(Nakano, 2001; Bryant, Smith, 2001; Vigil-Colet et al., 2005 );
- the results of studies that focused on the analysis of the psychometric
properties of the AQ on specific clinical populations (psychiatric
patients or aggressors), seem more contradictory in terms of being a
good fit for the four-factor model or with respect to the internal
consistency values of the individual sub-scales (Williams et al., 1996;
Morren, Meesters, 2002; Fossati et al., 2003).
Up to now the psychometric properties of the Italian version of the
questionnaire of that questionnaire have been tested on three groups: a
clinical sample (N = 461, average age = 33.9), and two non-clinical
sample (N = 563 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19; N = 1029
young adults between the ages of 20 and 35). All groups were taken
from Northern or Central Italian populations.
Essentially, the data from the validation study of the Italian AQ (Fossati et
al., 2003) confirm that the instrument is statistically valid in measuring
aggression, presenting sufficiently reliable internal consistency and a
sufficient components validity in the sample taken into consideration.
On the other hand, the adolescent and young adult population in Southern
Italy presents different socio-economic characteristics (Parrello et al.,
2008; SVIMEZ, 2008) than the other Italian contexts (Central and
Northern).
On the basis of the discussion above, the objective of the present study is to
analyze the psychometric properties of the Italian version of the AQ
across a representative sample of Southern Italian adolescents and
young adults to verify by confirmatory factor analysis the questionnaire
structure, compared in many studies.
METHODOLOGY:
Participants
860 subjects participated in the study
(stratified sample; complete anonimous responses; free participation):
males: 353 (41%)
females: 507 (59%)
average age: 20,10 (s.d. 3,70)
city of Naples: 392 (45.6%)
Naples surroundings: 468 (54.4%)
Family socio-economic level:
high: 6,86%
medium-high: 25,81%
medium: 31,86%
medium-low: 16,62%
low: 3,37%
doesn’t answer: 15,46%
Educational level:
Secondary Schools students: 445 (51.7%):
238 (53.5%) Scientific training
207 (46.5%) Liberal arts training
University students: 415 (48.3%):
196 (47.3%) Sciences
219 (52.7%) Liberal arts
Instrument
The Italian version of the AQ was used, composed of 29 items focused on
evaluating physical aggression (9 items), verbal aggression (5 items),
rage (7 items) and hostility (8 items), coded on a 5-point Likert scale
where 1 represented entirely false for me and 5 represented entirely true
for me.
Statistical Analyses
To verify the four-factor correlated model, proposed by Buss and Perry
(1992) and then confirmed (Garcia-León et al., 2202; Fossati et al., 2003;
Gerevich, Bácskai, Czobor, 2007), a Confirmatory Factor Analysis was
run relying on the Lisrel 8.51 software (Jöreskog e Sörbom, 1993).
To evaluate the gap between the reproduced matrix and the observed
matrix, the research relied on the rapport between both the Chi-square
test and degrees of freedom, since the former is not reliable when used
with numerous samples as in the present study. The following indexes
were also used: Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA),
Normed Fit Index (NFI), Non-Normed Fit Index (NNFI), Comparative
Fit Index (CFI), Standardized Root Mean square Residual (SRMS),
Goodness of Fit Index (GFI) and Adjusted Goodness of Fit Index
(AGFI).
An Exploratory Factor Analysis was subsequently conducting with
SPSS.16 software, using the Principal Axis Factorization method
(Oblimin rotation with Kaiser Normalization) and a Principle
Components Analysis (Oblimin rotation with Kaiser Normalization).
Using the same software, internal coherence was verified with Cronbach’s
α values, and Variance Analyses were run to verify the existence of
statistically significant differences in mean scores among sub-traits in
relation to subjects’ gender and age – the latter defined based on
enrollment in Secondary School or University.
RESULTS: Validation study
Confrontation between confirmative factor analysis on different models
Model
χ2/df RMSEA NFI NNFI CFI SRMR GFI AGFI
four
dimensions
5.10
(Buss e Perry, 1992)
.07
.71
.74
.76
.07
.87
.85
two
dimensions
8.48
(Williams et al., 1996)
.09
.60
.61
.64
.085
.80
.76
The results of the analysis showed unsatisfactory values for each of the
indexes considered therefore verifying the two-dimensional correlated
model developed by Williams et al. (1996), a study that considers
physical aggression together with rage and verbal aggression with
hostility. The results derived from the application of this model indicate
a deterioration of all indices taken into consideration.
Confirming the inadequacy of models in the current literature with respect
to the data collected in our study, we continued with an Exploratory
Factor Analysis (Principle Axis Factorization method, Oblimin rotation
with Kaiser Normalization). The scree test reading indicated the need to
extract three factors and the saturation analysis led to the subsequent
elimination of six items with saturations inferior to ±30 or with
elevated saturations of more latent traits.
The final result was composed from 23 items that collectively explain the
overall 33.02% variance.
As showed, the first factor (20.61% variance) mirrors the functional or
motor subcomponent of aggressive behavior and can be entirely
assimilated to the “physical aggression” trait; the second factor (8.0%
variance) captures cognitive competence with the “hostility” trait items;
the third factor (4.41% variance) is primarily composed of a mixture of
items – negative signs – originally directed at the functional or motor
subcomponent (verbal aggression) and at the emotional subcomponent
(rage), therefore read as the “unsuccessful verbalization of rage.”
Moreover, considering the correlation among the latent structures is
became clear that the unsuccessful verbalization of rage trait is
significantly correlated (.01, bilateral test) with physical aggression (.48)
and hostility (.35), the latter being significantly correlated (.01, bilateral
test) with physical aggression (.23).
The resulting internal coherence was satisfactory considering: physical
aggression (α .80), hostility (α .72) and the unsuccessful verbalization of
rage (α .77).
It should be highlighted that the exploratory procedure adopted by some
researchers (Bryant, Smith, 2001; Garcia-Léon, et al., 2002; Gerevich,
et al., 2007) is slightly but significantly different from that just
described. In particular, appeal is generally made to Principle
Component Analysis (PCA), with some exception (Buss, Perry, 1992).
This is not considered a Exploratory Factor Analysis since it is a
technique whose goal is summarizing information contained a totality of
observed variables and not arriving at the identification of latent
constructs. This is achieved by applying the method of principle factors
or Principle Axis Factorization, regression analysis or maximum
likelihood estimation (cf. Luccio & Paganucci, 2007; Giannini &
Panocchia, 2006).
Despite the inadequacy of PCA to reach our objectives, for the purposes of
comparison, we chose to repeat the analysis adopting the PCA along
with Oblimin rotation and Kaiser Normalization.
On the basis of the scree test analysis, the four-trait structure was
confirmed even with the necessary elimination of six items (7, 9, 11, 20,
23, 25) on the basis of saturation analysis.
The final solution, including 23 items, explains the 44.59% total variance,
but the distribution of the items among the four factors is distinct from
Buss and Perry (1992): while the first two traits (physical aggression
and hostility) are completely represented by relative items, the other two
are composed from a mixture of items that originally referred to verbal
aggression and rage. Moreover, the four factors remain significantly
interrelated.
On the basis of this factor solution, we evaluated the reliability of the scale
in relation to the exactness or precision with which the entire scale and
the individual sub-scales could estimate the different levels of the
various components making up aggressive behavior. Although the first
three sub-scales present a satisfactory internal coherence (respective α
values of .78, .67 and .77), the final sub-scale presents an unsatisfactory
internal coherence index (α .44).
On the basis of our results, considering indications from the
methodological literature (Pannocchia & Giannini, 2007; Fabrigar,
Mac-Callum, Wegener & Strahan, 1999), the solution obtained by
applying Exploratory Factor Analysis with Principle Axis Factorization
was considered more pertinent.
We consequently proceeded to confirm and verify this structure. The
indexes to adjust the model to the data can be considered satisfactory
[χ2/df = 4.19; RMSEA = .06; NFI = .82; NNFI = .84; SRMR = .06; GFI =
.91; AGFI = .89].
Model graph
0.67
5
1.00
21
0.62
1
1.50
9
0.95
27
1.11
17
1.36
29
1.78
24
1.12
16
1.10
26
1.27
8
0.99
12
1.24
11
1.48
20
1.39
28
1.64
4
1.04
18
1.14
14
0.75
13
1.09
19
1.22
15
0.92
6
1.22
22
1.02
1.01
0.74
0.85
0.64
0.68
0.73
0.46
Physical Aggression
1.00
0.26
0.76
0.75
0.77
0.67
0.69
0.56
0.55
0.47
Hostility
1.00
0.59
0.41
0.89
0.74
0.80
0.76
0.66
0.42
0.77
Unsuccessfull
Verbalisation of Rage
1.00
RESULTS: Subjects’ differentiation on the basis of age and gender
The descriptive analyses for this three-dimensional model demonstrate mean scores not
particularly elevated across the scale, as with the sub-scales.
Mean scores
Scale Total
2.54
PA
2.30
HOS
2.54
UVR
2.81
M
F
TOT
F
Sig.
Univ.
S.S.
TOT
F
Sig.
PA
2.73
1.99
2.29
195,716(1,858)
0.000
PA
2.11
2.46
2.29
36,751(1,858)
0.000
HOS
2,61
2.49
2.54
4,635(1,858)
0.032
HOS
2.48
2.59
2.54
3,957(1,858)
0.047
UVR
2.69
2.89
2.81
14,925(1,858)
0.00
UVR
2.72
2.89
2.81
10,956(1,858)
0.001
The variance analysis shows that mean scores of physical aggression and hostility are higher
in males, while among females the unsuccessful verbalization of rage was higher.
While mean scores of physical aggression, hostility and the unsuccessful verbalization of
rage are higher in younger subjects, frequently Secondary School students, these scores are
lower in older subjects.
DISCUSSION
In terms of the components validity, the results of the confirmatory factor
analyses show that for the Italian version of the AQ, the four-factor
structure, which was confirmed in other countries (Ando et al., 1999;
Bernstein, Gesn, 1996; Bouchard, 2007; Gallardo-Pujol et al., 2006;
Garcia-Léon et al., 2002; Meesters et al., 1996; Morren, Meesters, 2002;
Rodríguez, Peña, Graña, 2002; von Collani, Werner, 2005), does not
hold true with our sample.
The quality of this instrument is proven by its clear and distinct evaluation
of the functional or motor component of aggressive behavior (physical
aggression); the emotional component (rage) remains linked to the other
functional or motor sub-component (verbal aggression), similarly to the
cognitive component (hostility).
Such contextual specificity leads us to consider that in Southern Italy the
emotional component of aggressive behavior is rooted in its verbal
expression, therefore giving rise to a single trait and bringing back an
item originally ascribed to physical aggression (“I get into fights a little
more than the average person”). This last data in particular leads us to
consider that the subjects’ reading of this item reveals an ulterior
contextual specificity; among our subjects, picking a fight is read as a
verbal-expressive aspect of rage without physical externalization.
The results also show that the validity of the AQ overall is satisfactory as
are the three sub-scales that make it up, although each in a different
measure. In particular the functional or motor sub-component of
aggressive behavior (physical aggression), has the highest Cronbach’s α
values while the cognitive component (hostility) has the least elevated
although still satisfactory.
In line then with the original study by Buss and Perry (1992), and just as
the studies conducted in other countries which evaluated the
psychometric characteristics of the AQ (Bouchard, 2007; Bernstein,
Gesn, 1997; Harris, 1995, 1997; Nakano, 2001; Rodríguez, Peña, Graña
2002; Vigil-Colet et al., 2005), it is possible to confirm that the Italian
version of the AQ also shows sufficient validity.
As the authors of the original version have confirmed, however, we can
therefore demonstrate that, although with necessary differences, even
with the southern Italian sample, the AQ is a psychometric instrument
that provides sufficient empirical evidence and bases its precision on
theoretical validity in the evaluation of different types of aggression
(Buss, Perry, 1992).
Moreover, as has come out of previous works (Bryant, Smith, 2001;
Gerevich, Bácskai, Czobor, 2007; Morales-Vives, Codorniu-Rada, VigilColet, 2005; Nakano, 2001; Ramirez, Andreu, Fujihara, 2001; VigilColet et al., 2005), our analyses also show that the exclusion of some
items from the overall scale produces an improved factor model.
Regarding the effects of the age and gender variables on different types of
aggression, we must underscore how the results obtained partially
mirror those obtained by other authors, even in different contexts (Buss,
Perry, 1992; Sommantico et al., in press; Fossati et al., 2003; Harris,
1995, 1997; Meesters et al., 1996; Nakano, 2001; Rodríguez, Peña,
Graña 2002; von Collani, Werner, 2005). In general terms, even though
mean scores were not very high, men tend to show greater levels of
aggression, specifically physical and proportional to the verbal
expression of rage. In line with the cited studies and the literature on
this specific phase of the life (Greenspan, Pollock, 1991; Bergeret et al.,
1985), the increased age of the subject contributes to a decrease in the
different types of aggression. On the other hand, women show lower
levels in the verbal expression of rage.
In conclusion, in our subjects, hostility, generally ascribed to women,
demonstrates higher average means in males.
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