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Cognitive predictors of reactive and proactive aggression in a forensic sample: A comparison with a non-clinical sample

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This study aimed at examining cognitive predictors of reactive and proactive aggression in a forensic-psychiatric (n = 80) and a non-clinical sample (n = 98; Brugman et al., 2015). Three different cognitive predictors were incorporated: (1) attentional bias towards aggressive stimuli (measured with Emotional Stroop task) and towards angry faces (measured with a visual search task); (2) interpretation biases (measured with Aggressive Interpretative Bias Task (AIBT) and a vignette task), and (3) implicit self-aggression association (measured with a Single-Target Implicit Association Task). To measure aggression, the Reactive-Proactive Aggression Questionnaire (RPQ) and the Taylor Aggression Paradigm (TAP) were used. An automatic self-aggression association positively predicted proactive aggressive behavior on the TAP in both samples. Furthermore, this self-aggression association predicted, increased self-reported proactive aggression (RPQ) in the forensic sample only. Pain, injury, and danger interpretations reported on the vignettes, negatively predicted self-reported proactive aggression in both samples. A stronger aggressive interpretation bias on the AIBT predicted more reactive aggressive behavior (TAP) in the non-clinical sample only. Taken together, findings show both common and distinct mechanisms in reactively vs. proactively driven aggressive behavior.

    Research areas

  • ANGER, ATTENTION, Aggressive behavior, BEHAVIOR, Cognitive predictors, Forensic psychiatric patients, IMPLICIT, INFORMATION-PROCESSING MECHANISMS, PAIN, PROVOCATION, Proactive aggression, QUESTIONNAIRE, Reactive aggression, TOLERANCE, Taylor aggression paradigm, VIOLENT, Predictive Value of Tests, Humans, Middle Aged, Male, Young Adult, Adult, Female, Hospitals, Psychiatric/trends, Forensic Psychology/trends, Adolescent, Aggression/physiology, Cognition/physiology
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610-620
Number of pages11
JournalPsychiatry Research
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018