Bushman, B. J., & Anderson, C. A. (2001). 

Is it Time to Pull the Plug on the Hostile Versus Instrumental Aggression Dichotomy?

Psychological Review, 108, 273-279.


Psychologists have often categorized human aggression as hostile or instrumental. Hostile aggression is “hot,” impulsive behavior that is motivated by a desire to hurt someone, whereas instrumental aggression is “cold,” premeditated behavior used as a means to achieve some other end. Although this dichotomy was useful to the early development of aggression theories and interventions, and continues to capture important features of nonhuman aggression, it has outlived its usefulness as a descriptor of fundamentally different kinds of human aggression. It is confounded with the automatic/controlled information processing dichotomy, and it fails to consider aggressive acts with multiple motives. Knowledge structure models of aggression easily handle these problems. Taking extreme measures to preserve the hostile/instrumental dichotomy will only delay further advances in understanding and controlling human aggression. Therefore, it seems a proper time to "pull the plug" and to allow the hostile/instrumental aggression dichotomy a dignified death.

© Copyright 2000 by Brad J. Bushman & Craig A. Anderson

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