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What Is Aggression?



In psychology, the term aggression refers to a range of behaviors that can result in both physical and psychological harm to oneself, other or objects in the environment. The expression of aggression can occur in a number of ways, including verbally, mentally and physically.

Forms of Aggression

Aggression can take a variety of forms, including:

  • Physical
  • Verbal
  • Mental
  • Emotional

Purposes of Aggression

Aggression can also serve a number of different purposes:

  • To express anger or hostility
  • To assert dominance
  • To intimidate or threaten
  • To achieve a goal
  • To express possession
  • A response to fear
  • A reaction to pain
  • To compete with others

Researchers have suggested that individual who engage in affective aggression, defined as aggression that is unplanned and uncontrolled, tend to have lower IQs than people who display predatory aggression. Predatory aggression is defined as aggression that is controlled, planned and goal-oriented.

More Psychology Definitions: The Psychology Dictionary

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Behar, D.; Hunt, J.; Ricciuti, A.; Stoff, D.; Vitiello, B. (1990). Subtyping Aggression in Children and Adolescents. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2 (2): 189–192.

Berkowitz, L. (1993). Aggression: Its causes, consequences, and control. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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