Motives and interpersonal functions of aggression

K. Ohbuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this review, the author theoretically and empirically examined motives and interpersonal functions of aggression. A factor-analysis of Averill's questionnaire items on anger revealed that motives involved in aggressive responses were clustered into two groups: the hostile and the instrumental. It was also clarified that an individual is likely to engage in aggression particularly when some hostile motives are evoked. Concerning the interpersonal functions, the author proposed that aggression might serve four principal goals. (1) Aggression can be generated as an avoidance response to an aversive stimulus, such as frustration, annoyance, or pain, and so on. It depends on the severity of the stimulus. It was however emphasized that aggression is also mediated by social cognition, such as an attribution of intent to a harm-doer. (2) Aggression can be used as a means of coercing the other person into doing something. An individual is likely to use such a power strategy if he/she is lacking in self-confidence or a perspective for influencing the target person by more peaceful strategies. (3) Aggression can be interpreted as a punishment when it is directed toward a transgressor. In this case, aggression is motivated by restoration of a social justice, and thus its intensity is determined by the perceived moral responsibility of the transgressor. Further, it was indicated that aggression is intensified if it is justified as a sanctional conduct against the immoral. (4) Aggression can be also evoked when an individual's social identity is threatened. It was suggested that impression management motives are involved in aggression by an unexpected finding that the presence of audience or the identifiability rather facilitated retaliative aggression. The aggression-inhibition effect of apology was also explained in terms of impression management. In conclusion, it was presented that aggression is a behavioral strategy as an attempt to resolve interpersonal conflicts including physical or psychological annoyance, the other person's disobedience, perceived injustice, and a threat to one's social identity. Whether one's aggression is performed or not depends on a number of intra- and inter-personal determinants, particularly on social cognitive processes such as attribution, inference, prediction and other judgements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-124
Number of pages12
JournalShinrigaku kenkyu. The Japanese journal of psychology
Volume58
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1987 Jun
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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