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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2011 Jun;37(6):850-62. doi: 10.1177/0146167211401420. Epub 2011 Mar 18.

Understanding impulsive aggression: Angry rumination and reduced self-control capacity are mechanisms underlying the provocation-aggression relationship.

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  • 1University of New South Wales, School of Psychology, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.


Interpersonal provocation is a common and robust antecedent to aggression. Four studies identified angry rumination and reduced self-control as mechanisms underlying the provocation-aggression relationship. Following provocation, participants demonstrated decreased self-control on an unpleasant task relative to a control condition (Study 1). When provoked, rumination reduced self-control and increased aggression. This effect was mediated by reduced self-control capacity (Study 2). State rumination following provocation, but not anger per se, mediated the effect of trait rumination on aggression (Study 3). Bolstering self-regulatory resources by consuming a glucose beverage improved performance on a measure of inhibitory control following rumination (Study 4). These findings suggest that rumination following an anger-inducing provocation reduces self-control and increases aggression. Bolstering self-regulatory resources may reduce this adverse effect.

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