Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 713–722 | Cite as

Differentiating Forms and Functions of Aggression in Emerging Adults: Associations with Hostile Attribution Biases and Normative Beliefs

  • Christopher A. Bailey
  • Jamie M. Ostrov
Original Paper


The purpose of this study was to extend the current literature on forms (i.e., physical and relational) and functions (i.e., proactive and reactive) of participants’ cognitions and beliefs about aggressive behavior. Participants included an ethnically diverse group of emerging adults (N = 165; M = 19.05 years; SD = 1.55) and completed a battery of self-report instruments. Gender differences for subtypes of physical aggression were found. Impulsivity was associated with all subtypes of aggression. Results showed that reactive physical aggression was uniquely associated with hostile attribution biases for instrumental provocation situations. Reactive relational aggression was uniquely associated with hostile attribution biases for relational provocation scenarios. Findings indicated links between self-reported subtypes of aggressive behavior and normative beliefs of aggression. Ways in which this study extends the extant literature are discussed.


Relational aggression Hostile attribution biases Normative beliefs Functions of aggression 



We would like to thank Maureen Ballin, Christa Bishop, Audra Foote, Stephanie Godleski, Stacey Lampell, Kristen Muth, Becca Trager, Alyssa Tevens, and many other undergraduate and graduate students for their assistance with the collection, coding and data entry on this project. We thank Dr. Rebecca J. Houston for her assistance with this project. We thank Drs. J. Gayle Beck, Jennifer P. Read and Gretchen B. Sechrist for comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. We acknowledge the students who participated in this study.

This project was conducted in partial fulfillment of the Bachelor of Science with High Honors degree by the first author under the direction of the second author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Developmental Electrophysiology Lab of the Child Study CenterYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, University at BuffaloThe State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA

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