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Identifying cognitive predictors of reactive and proactive aggression

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to identify implicit cognitive predictors of aggressive behavior. Specifically, the predictive value of an attentional bias for aggressive stimuli and automatic association of the self and aggression was examined for reactive and proactive aggressive behavior in a non-clinical sample (N = 90). An Emotional Stroop Task was used to measure an attentional bias. With an idiographic Single-Target Implicit Association Test, automatic associations were assessed between words referring to the self (e.g., the participants' name) and words referring to aggression (e.g., fighting). The Taylor Aggression Paradigm (TAP) was used to measure reactive and proactive aggressive behavior. Furthermore, self-reported aggressiveness was assessed with the Reactive Proactive Aggression Questionnaire (RPQ). Results showed that heightened attentional interference for aggressive words significantly predicted more reactive aggression, while lower attentional bias towards aggressive words predicted higher levels of proactive aggression. A stronger self-aggression association resulted in more proactive aggression, but not reactive aggression. Self-reports on aggression did not additionally predict behavioral aggression. This implies that the cognitive tests employed in our study have the potential to discriminate between reactive and proactive aggression. Aggr. Behav. 9999:XX-XX, 2014. (c) 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

    Research areas

  • BEHAVIOR, EMOTIONAL STROOP TASK, HOSTILE, IMPLICIT ASSOCIATION TEST, INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES, INFORMATION-PROCESSING MECHANISMS, MODEL, SEX-DIFFERENCES, SOCIAL COGNITION, Taylor Aggression Paradigm, WORDS, automatic processes, cognitive predictors, proactive aggression, reactive aggression
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-64
Number of pages14
JournalAggressive Behavior
Volume41
Issue number1
Early online date2 Dec 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015