Automatic processes and individual differences in aggressive behavior

Juliette Richetin, Deborah South Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


In a context in which aggressive behavior has been predominantly predicted by self-reports, this paper considers how a theoretical and empirical examination of automatic and deliberative processes in information processing and decision making may contribute to our understanding of aggressive behavior. We review research devoted to distinguishing two types of aggression with regard to the level of automaticity or control they involve, a distinction similar to the one between automatic and deliberative processes. In parallel with this theoretical distinction, implicit measures appear to be a good candidate for measuring aggression and predicting aggressive behavior. Although consideration of automatic processes is essential for a better understanding of how and why people act aggressively, it should not lead to the conclusion that aggressive behavior is fully automatic. This contribution underlines that the interaction between environment and individual differences is the key element at the implicit level, as it is at the explicit level. Some future directions for studying aggression using implicit measures are drawn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-430
Number of pages8
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Aggression
  • Automatic processes
  • Behavior
  • Implicit measures
  • Individual differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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