Frustration as motivation. Vandalism:constructive or destructive behavior

University dissertation from University of Gothenburg

Abstract: DEGREE OF LICENTIATE IN PSYCHOLOGY Correspondence: Anki Nordmarker, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Karlstad University, SE-651 88 Karlstad, Sweden. Phone: +46(0)54 – 700 1000 E-mail: Anki.Nordmarker@kau.se ISSN 1101-718X ISRN GU/PSYK/AVH-234--SE Abstract Nordmarker, A. (2010). Frustration as motivation. Vandalism: Constructive or destructive behavior. Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. These present investigations are a first step in achieving a deeper understanding of the psychology of vandalism, focusing on the individual’s motivations, feelings, triggering and releasing factors, and presumed and realistic outcome of the process. The aim of these two experimental studies is to find out in which way alcohol and frustration influence ordinary young adults to act destructively and/or in a vandalistic manner within a laboratory setting and whether or not gender differences are notable. In other words: are alcohol and/or frustration triggering factors in vandalistic behavior? For this thesis an ancillary question was established: is it possible to explain the results of these studies by using The Equity Control Model? The theoretical overview showed that vandalism in general is motivated by negative feelings such as frustration, anger, boredom and revenge, but also that it is motivated by curiosity, playfulness and pleasure. Factors such as peer-group pressure, creativity and communication are also to be taken into account. About 85-95 % of all vandalistic acts are perpetrated by males; vandalism reaches its peak in middle adolescence and alcohol is a frequent variable in vandalistic behavior. One of the most common forms of vandalism today is TTP-graffiti (tags, throw-ups and pieces) but there are discrepant viewpoints about whether graffiti is vandalism or art. Studies show that people involved in graffiti have interests in art, demonstrate a desire for attention, respect and status and that graffiti is about talent, skills, competition, pride and pleasure. About 90-95 % of all graffitists are male, mostly between the ages of 12 and 20, with peak frequency years between the ages of 14 and 16. According to The Equity Control Model of Vandalism, the underlying motive in most vandalistic acts is perceived inequity, and variables involved are: control, environment, group variables, societal reactions and terms of equity restoration. The main findings of the two experimental studies showed that. (a) alcohol and frustration in combination are triggering factors and increase the opportunity for vandalism to occur, (b) only alcohol or only frustration do not give an increased effect, (c) scrawlinggraffiti correlates with destruction, aggression and sexuality, (d) scrawling-graffiti does not correlate with creativity measured as elaboration, (e)women expressed higher degrees of scrawling-graffiti, destruction and elaboration when compared with men in the laboratory setting . These findings represent a small step toward reaching a deeper understanding of the psychology of vandalism. The Equity Control Model helps understanding the complexity of variables involved in a vandalistic act such as motivational factors (perceived inequity), moderating factors (degree of control), secondary moderating factors (group presence, architectural features), equity restoration by action (actual equity or psychological equity), societal reactions (favorable or unfavorable), and terms of perceived equity (higher or lower potential) that might lead to further vandalistic or other antisocial behavior. Keywords: vandalism, graffiti, juvenile delinquency, alcohol, frustration, creativity, destructiveness, the equity control model of vandalism

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