Uncovering the hierarchical structure of self-reported hostility

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Hostility and other related terms like anger and aggression are often used interchangeably to describe antagonistic affect, cognition, and behavior. Psychometric studies suggest that hostility consists of multiple separate factors, but consensus is currently lacking. In the present study we examined the hierarchical structure of hostility. The hierarchical structure of hostility was examined in N = 376 people (i.e., a mixed community and highly hostile sample), using both specific and broad hostility self-report measures. A series of Principal Components Analyses revealed the structure of hostility at five levels of specificity. At intermediate levels, hostility can consistently be expressed in affective, cognitive, and behavioral components. At the most specific level, hostility can be expressed in terms of Angry Affect; Hostile Intent; and Verbal, Relational, and Physical Aggression. The pattern of associations showed significant convergence, and some divergence with broad and more specific hostility measures. The present findings stress the need for novel instruments that capture each hostility facet separately to reduce conceptual confounding.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0239631
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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