Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The cognitive-labeling hypothesis states that the arousal properties of noise will increase aggression only if a person has been provoked and labels the arousal as anger. The arousal hypothesis states that noise-induced arousal may directly increase aggression. It is suggested that discrepant findings are due to differences in subjects' level of self-awareness when participating in sedate versus physical measures of aggression. Male subjects engaged in physical aggression by throwing balls at a confederate within a 2 x 2 x 2 design comprised of provocation versus no provocation, noise versus no noise, and low versus high self-awareness. The ball-throwing was videotaped and the tapes scored for: number of throws, number of hits, accuracy, proximity to target, and ratings of aggressiveness. It was predicted that provoked subjects would be more aggressive than those nonprovoked. A provocation by self-awareness interaction was predicted. An increase in self-awareness should have increased the saliency of the appropriate standard of behavior. For provoked subjects, that standard should have been one of retaliation; for nonprovoked subjects, it should have been one of nonaggression. Thus, the greatest aggression was expected from provoked high self-aware subjects; the least aggression was expected from nonprovoked high self-aware subjects. It was expected that the arousal properties of the noise would serve to increase aggression among all combinations of the other two variables with the exception of the nonprovoked high self-awareness condition. For these subjects, it was expected that the saliency of the standard of nonaggression would counter the potential aggression enhancing effects of the noise. None of the predicted results were obtained. Provoked subjects were not more aggressive than nonprovoked subjects. The provocation by self-awareness interaction did not occur. Noise had no effect. There was some evidence that subjects low in self-awareness were more aggressive than those high in self-awareness. Rather that affecting the saliency of the appropriate standard of behavior, self-awareness seemed to affect subjects' inhibitions.