Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

pp 757-758

Hostile Aggression

  • Micah S. BrosbeAffiliated withCenter for Psychological Studies, Nova Southeastern University


Affective aggression; Impulsive aggression; Reactive aggression


Hostile aggression is a type of aggression that is committed in response to a perceived threat or insult. It is unplanned, reactionary, impulsive, and fueled by intense emotion as opposed to desire to achieve a goal. Aggressors typically have a sense of a loss of control during outbursts, and characteristically experience physiological hyperarousal.


Aggression in children and adolescents can take many forms. It can include bullying, fighting, teasing, or rumor spreading. Definitions of aggression have varied; some define it by intention of causing harm while others define it by the action of causing harm itself [1]. Aggression in general has been classified on various different dimensions. Most notably, it has been classified by the type of aggressive acts committed and by the state of mind or intention of the aggressor.

Aggression is frequently classified as hostile v ...

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