Family relationships and aggression

Positive family and peer relationships could serve to reduce physical aggression in young people. According to new research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Mexican-American college students with strong bonds to their relatives and friends often have higher levels of empathy.

Gustavo Carlo, Millsap Professor of Diversity in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Missouri, which is often referred to as Mizzou, noted this emotion is linked to behaviours deemed more pro-social - such as assisting others without expectance of a reward and lending a helping hand in an emergency situation.

Professor Carlo explained the capacity to form close links that are trusting, secure and intimate represents positive development.

He added: "Close parent and peer attachments lead to positive outcomes such as successful social functioning, academic competence and contributions to society."

According to the findings, attempts to forge a better understanding of the importance of relationships in this culture could result in more individuals from such a background choosing to enrol in college to further their education.

Professor John Archer from the University of Central Lancashire, a Chartered Psychologist and Fellow of the British Psychological Society, commented: "Based only on the news story, this study is a counter to studies of such groups that tend to emphasise greater tendency towards aggression via endorsement of a culture of honour.

"It is likely that both coexist and will lead to greater or lesser aggression depending on the circumstances and the nature of the social interactions. Greater social ties are characteristic of more collectivist cultures and it is likely that they produce greater social cohesion and less conflict with in-group members but a greater scope for conflict once accepted cultural values are violated.

"As the authors comment, positive social relationships are a neglected area of studies in minority groups, in this case Latinos in the US, but also more generally."