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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2006;30(3):276-91. Epub 2005 Aug 2.

Aggression, and some related psychological constructs (anger, hostility, and impulsivity); some comments from a research project.

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Institute for Biofunctional Studies, Universidad Complutense Madrid, Spain.


The purpose of the present study was: first, to offer a few theoretical considerations on the concept of human aggression and its main types; and second, to analyse the relationship between those types of aggression and other related psychological constructs, such as anger, hostility, and impulsivity, summarizing the main empirical results of our research in progress. In order to assess their eventual correlations, several self-report techniques were compared: (a) AQ, used to measure several kinds of aggression, anger, and hostility; (b) CAMA, a questionnaire already used in a variety of cultures, for measuring attitudes toward interpersonal aggression in different instrumental and hostile situations; (c) ASQ, an instrument for measuring experienced anger and its expression in assertive or aggressive ways; and (d) BIS, used to prove three impulsiveness sub-traits: motor, attentional, and non-planning impulsiveness. The different definitions of aggression may be grouped according to whether the primary goal is distress or harm, focusing primarily on the objective infliction of harm, or on the subjective intention of harming. Most classifications in the literature show two kinds of aggression, even if different names are used: Hostile Aggression (among other names it is also known as 'reactive, impulsive, or affective') is an act primarily oriented to hurt another individual; and Instrumental Aggression (also known as 'proactive, premeditated, or predative') is a means or tool for solving problems or for obtaining a variety of objectives. As predicted, there was a positive correlation between experience and expression of anger. Anger involved physiological arousal and prepared for aggression. Anger and impulsiveness were also positively correlated with hostile aggression, but not with instrumental aggression. In the case of impulsiveness, non-planning impulsiveness was positively correlated with some situations related to hostile aggression, such as emotional agitation or lack of communication, but not with instrumental one. Finally, hostility positively correlated with anger and different kinds of aggression, but not its degree of justification. In sum, aggression can be reflected in the different personality constructs, measured by self-reports.

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