Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Social psychology: Altruism · Attribution · Attitudes · Conformity · Discrimination · Groups · Interpersonal relations · Obedience · Prejudice · Norms · Perception · Index · Outline

This article is in need of attention from a psychologist/academic expert on the subject.
Please help recruit one, or improve this page yourself if you are qualified.
This banner appears on articles that are weak and whose contents should be approached with academic caution.

Aggression is sometimes used to intimidate and coerce during extremely rigorous physical training. Here a drill instructor screams at soldiers during an exercise.

Aggression is a very general term covering a wide range of behaviours that involve

  • The practice or habit of launching attacks.
  • Hostile or destructive behavior or actions.

In psychology, aggression encompasses many different types of behaviour, some of which are not clearly related to each other. Consequently, aggression has been a difficult term to provide one concise definition for.

Moyer (1968) presented an early, and highly influential, classification of seven different forms of aggression.

  1. Predatory aggression: attack on prey by a predator.
  2. Inter-male aggression: competition between males of the same species over access to females, dominance, status etc. Inter-female aggression also occurs
  3. Fear-induced aggression: aggression associated with attempts to flee from a threat
  4. Irritable aggression: aggression directed towards an available target induced by some sort of frustration (e.g. schedule-induced aggression)
  5. Territorial aggression: defence of a fixed space against intruders, typically conspecifics.
  6. Maternal aggression: a female's aggression to protect her offspring from a threat. Paternal aggression also exists.
  7. Instrumental aggression: aggression directed towards obtaining some goal, maybe a learned response to a situation

Other types of aggression identified include:

Identification of aggressive behaviour

Not all aggression is direct or readily identifiable. Some aggression may occur in the context of what appear to be a friendship. Such Relational aggression may involve domination, even sadism as the more powerful friend torments the weaker through threats of exclusion. Indirect aggression or passive-aggression involves such actions as spreading rumors about others, even lies; as may social aggression which attacks self esteem or social status.

Theories of Aggression

Biological basis of aggressive behaviour

Exposure to elevated androgen concentrations in the womb has been link to increased aggressiveness in adulthood in both lab mice (vom Saal & Bronson, 1980; Ryan & Vandenbergh, 2002) and humans (Reinisch, 1977; Reinisch, 1981; Berenbaum & Reinisch, 1997).

Enhanced levels of aggression in male mice and monkeys have been associated with the hormone monoamine oxidase A, MAO-A. However, studies in macaque and humans showed that its negative effects can usually be mitigated by parenting.

Aggression as instinct

Externally-stimulated aggression

Aggression and motivation

Aggression is one of the most important and most controversial kinds of motivation. Its use as a category in the psychology of motivation has often been criticised, because it is clear that it encompasses a vast range of phenomena, from modern war to squabbles between individuals. It is far from clear that these have anything in common other than the risk that someone gets hurt.

Aggression and anxiety

  • Aggression and anxiety

Aggression and fear

  • Aggression and fear

Aggression and frustration

Aggression and pain

  • Aggression and pain

Aggression and arousal

  • Excitation-transfer Theory of aggression

Cognitive behavioural theory of aggression

Psychodynamic theories of aggression

Social psychology theories of aggression

Aggression and environmental factors

A number of environmental variables have been shown to be linked with increased aggression:

Gender and aggression

Aggression and child development

Aggression and personality

The tendency to act aggressively has been researched in terms of personality variables

  • Aggression and personality

Aggression and clinical psychology

Aggression in education

Aggression in the workplace

Aggression in animals

Main article: Aggression in animals


See also

References & Bibliography

Key texts


  • Brain, (1981). Multidisciplinary Approaches to Aggression Research , Brain & Benton (Eds), Elsevier/North Holland, Amsterdam, .
  • Berkowitz. L. (1993b) Aggression: Its Causes, Consequences, and Control. New York: McGrawHill.
  • Dollard,J., Doob, Leonard.W., Miller,N.E., Mowrer,O.H., and Sears, Robert R. Frustration and Aggression. New Haven:Yale University Press, 1939.
  • Campbell, Anne. Men, Women and Aggression. New York: Basic Books, 1993, p. 8.
  • Lorenz, K. (1966) On Aggression.(Marjorie Kerr Wilson, Trans.) New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.,
  • Kania, J. (1988) Aggression: Conflict in Animals and Humans Reconsidered. London: Longman.
  • Nemeroff, The Biology and Mechanism of Aggression
  • Zillman, D. (1979) Hostility and Aggression, Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.


  • Anderson, C.A. and Bushman. B. 1. (1997). External validity of 'trivial' experiments: The case of laboratory aggression, Review of General Psychology, 1, 19-41.
  • Anderson, C.A. and Bushman, R. (2002). Human aggression. Annual Review of Psychology 119, 53,27-51.
  • Berkowitz, L. (1990). On the formation and regulation of anger and aggression: a cognitive neoassociationistic analysis, American Psychologist, 45, 494-503.
  • Berkowitz. L. (1993a). Pain and aggression: Some findings and implications. Motivation and Emotion, 17.277-93.
  • Lore, R. and Schultz. L. A. (1993). Control of human aggression: a comparative perspective, American Psychologist, 48. 16-25.
  • Moyer, K.E. (1968). Kinds of aggression and their physiological basis. Communications in Behavioral Biology, 2A:65-87.

Additional material



  • Google Scholar
  • Baron, R. A. (1983) The control of human aggression: an optimistic perspective, Journal of Social and Clinical 1. 97-119.
  • Berkowitz. L. (1998) Aggressive personalities, in D. F. Barone. M. Hersen mid V.B. Van Hasselt (eds) Advanced Personality. New York: Plenum Press.
  • Bushman, B. J., Baumeister, R. F. and Stack, A. D. (1999) Catharsis. aggression. and persuasive influence: self-fulfilling or self-defeating prophecies? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76. 367-76.
  • Hovland, C.I. and Sears, R. (1940) Minor studies in aggression, VI Correlation of lynchings with economic indices, Journal of Psychology 9: 301-10.
  • Prentice-Dunn, S, and Rogers, R.W. (1982) Effects of public and private self-awareness on deindividuation and aggression, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 43: 503-13.
  • Tedeschi, J., & Quigley, B. (1996). Limitations of laboratory paradigms for studying aggression. Aggression & Violent Behavior, 2, 163-177.
  • Berkowitz, L. (1965). Some aspects of observed aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2, 359-369.
  • Salinger, K. (1995) A behavior-analytic view of anger and aggression, in H. Kassinove (ed.) Anger Disorders: Definition, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor & Francis.


Aggression: Academic support materials

  • Aggression: Lecture slides
  • Aggression: Lecture notes
  • Aggression: Lecture handouts
  • Aggression: Multimedia materials
  • Aggression: Other academic support materials
  • Aggression: Anonymous fictional case studies for training

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).