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Examining the validity of the modified Taylor competitive reaction time test of aggression

Abstract

The use of behavioral tests of aggression has been a source of controversy for decades. Many critics of such measures note that validity studies for these measures are generally lacking. This manuscript describes two studies designed to test the validity of one of the most commonly used behavioral aggression measures, the modified Taylor competitive reaction time test (TCRTT). Participants in both studies were college undergraduates who were individually administered the TCRTT in a laboratory setting. In the first study (n = 103), results on a standardized version of the modified TCRTT were examined for their convergent validity with expected measures of trait aggression and violent acts, including violent criminal behaviors and domestic violence. The second study (n = 101) examined the validity of the modified TCRTT against neuropsychological outcomes that are predictive of impulsive violence. Both studies raised serious validity problems for the modified TCRTT. It is recommended that this measure not be adopted clinically as a behavioral measure of aggression and that other similar measures be more rigorously tested. Its use in research should be undertaken under advisement that results should not be generalized to serious acts of aggression or violence.

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Correspondence to Christopher J. Ferguson.

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Ferguson, C.J., Rueda, S.M. Examining the validity of the modified Taylor competitive reaction time test of aggression. J Exp Criminol 5, 121 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-009-9069-5

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Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Assessment
  • Mass media
  • Personality assessment
  • Violent behavior