Human Aggression

Human Aggression

Human Aggression

Human Aggression


  • What sort of conditions provoke aggressive behaviour among humans?
  • Why are some people more aggressive than others?
  • How do normal human characteristics like thoughts and feelings enter into aggressive behaviour?
The fully revised and updated edition of this successful book offers a brief introduction to the psychology of human aggression. Aggression is defined as an act of intentional harm inflicted on another person in response to some provoking circumstance, through a process involving thought, feeling, judgement and motivation. Several theoretical schemes are discussed, according to which these psychological processes are shown to interact with each other to determine the likelihood and intensity of aggressive behaviour. The theoretical material is followed by chapters in which the psychological processes are used to analyse such practical problems as sexual and partner abuse, bullying, delinquency, and the effects of violence in the media, video games, and sporting events.

The second edition includes new material on the difference between proactive versus reactive aggression, on social information-processing, and on the effects of violent games. It also pays increased attention to instrumental versus affective aggression, to age, sex and personality as moderators, and to the impact of aggression on everyday life.

In all, the book provides an accessible text for students of psychology and others interested in obtaining a concise overview of research and theory on human aggression and violence.


Books about human aggression tend to be of two types. Some are composed according to a particular point of view. These books organize and explicate research findings from a perspective determined by the theory that underlies the approach. Other books are broader, more inclusive and less theory-driven. They structure material along topical lines such as the development of aggression, the social and environmental determinants of aggressive behaviour and strategies for the control of aggression. This book falls somewhere between the two. As a volume in a series of short texts, it does not pretend to be exhaustive in its review. As a book intended for classroom use, it does not aspire to make any innovative contributions to theory. Instead, it reviews a body of literature that has accumulated in the study of one type of human aggression and it organizes the findings of the literature along the lines of a simple process model.

This book is the second edition of Human Aggression, and its has been organized to reflect the state of knowledge on this subject at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Aggression is defined as an act of harmdoing inflicted consciously and intentionally upon an unwilling victim. Traditionally, aggression has been conceptualized as primarily either affective or instrumental in nature, i.e. as either an outburst of behaviour animated by anger or a relatively affect-free action carried out because it serves some other purpose. This distinction forms the basis for a more recent one between proactive aggression, which is instrumental in nature, and reactive aggression, which is a response to some provoking circumstance. Affective aggression is further defined as a response to an aversive change in the person's environment — a provocation — and not to anything internally generated. The relative emphasis of this book is on the analysis of aggression that is reactive and affective, because this is the approach taken by most students of human aggression and violence. Nevertheless, it will also be clear from a perusal of this book that interest in the instrumental nature of aggression has been increasing in recent years, and that instrumental motives (e.g. power and dominance) are heavily involved in . . .

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