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Psychology Glossary of Terms

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Aggression

Definition:
Physical or verbal behaviour that is intended to hurt or destroy someone.
 
Background:
Interpersonal aggression shows a specific developmental trend. Young children evidence more instrumental aggression, which has a specific goal, such as retrieving a toy. As children get older, they tend to display more hostile aggression, which is intended only to hurt someone. As people age, aggression tends to become more verbal and less physical. There are some gender differences in aggression, and boys tend to be more outwardly aggressive than girls after the age of 2. There is a lot of variability in aggression, and in grade school, it is typically a small number of children who are very aggressive. Research has indicated that there is a significant genetic contribution to aggressiveness.
 
Further Reading:

Hyde, J. S. (1986). Gender differences in aggression. In J. S. Hyde, & M. C. Linn (Eds.), The psychology of gender differences: Advances through meta-analysis. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

McCabe, A., & Lipscomb, T. J. (1988). Sex differences in children's verbal aggression. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. 34, 389-401.

Rushton, J. P., Fulker, D. W., Neale, M. C., Nias, D. K. B., & Eysenck, H. J. (1986). Altruism and aggression: The heritability of individual differences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 50, 283-305.

 
Self-Instructional Resources:
Take a 2-item self-test over this concept.

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