Specific personality variables, such as anger or irritability predict the tendency to either engage in aggressive behavior willingly or to engage in aggressive behavior when provoked, according to a recent meta-analysis in the September issue of Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).
Persons identified as having an aggressive and irritable personality were more likely to engage in aggressive behavior regardless of whether situations were provoking. “This may suggest that these persons have the capacity to engage in cold-blooded style of aggressive behavior, reacting harshly as a result to little or no agitation” said lead author B. Ann Bettencourt.
The review also found that personality variables, and the level of provocation, interact to influence aggressive behavior. For instance, people who are Type A personalities, have a tendency to express anger (trait anger), have self-destructive tendencies and mull-over upsetting situations, are emotional susceptible, narcissistic and for the most part impulsive were more likely to behave aggressively only under provoking conditions. This type of reaction is considered “hot-blooded” because a person is usually upset by the provoking situation, which induces the aggressive behavior. Bettencourt and her colleagues labeled the two different patterns of associations between personality and aggressive behavior as aggression-prone and provocation-sensitive.
“Problems with aggression and violence continue to plague people’s interpersonal life, their intergroup interactions, and society in general. Social scientists need to develop a better understanding of the complex dynamics among personality variables, situational variables, and aggressive behavior to gain a better understanding of human aggression. The knowledge gained from further research will refine therapeutic and policy interventions aimed at reducing aggression and violence,” stated Bettencourt.
Article: “Personality and Aggressive Behavior Under Provoking and Neutral Conditions: A Meta- Analytic Review,” B. Ann Bettencourt, PhD, Amelia Talley, MA, University of Missouri – Columbia; Arlin James Benjamin, PhD, Panhandle State University; Jeffery Valentine, PhD, Duke University; Psychological Bulletin, Vol.132 No.5.
Source: American Psychological Association. November 2006