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Psychol Sci. 2006 Feb;17(2):136-42.

Turning the other cheek. Agreeableness and the regulation of aggression-related primes.

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Department of Psychology, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA 17325, USA.


Aggression-related cues (e.g., violent media) can prime both hostile thoughts and the tendency to commit aggression. However, not everyone engages in an aggressive act after being exposed to an aggression-related cue. Some thought pattern, perhaps an automatic one, may prevent the cue-aggression sequence in some individuals. These considerations motivated the present research, which examined the potential for agreeableness to moderate the effect of aggression-related cues on behavior and cognition. In Study 1, we found that priming with aggression-related cues increased aggressive behavior, but only among individuals low in agreeableness. Study 2 showed that aggression-related cues activated prosocial thoughts among individuals high in agreeable affect (a component of agreeableness). These results reveal that agreeable individuals are able to short-circuit the cue-aggression sequence, likely by recruiting prosocial thoughts in response to aggression-related primes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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