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Types, Causes And Effects Of Aggressive Behavior

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What is meant by aggressive behavior?

Aggressive behavior is reactionary and impulsive behavior that often results in causing both physical and psychological harm to ourselves, others, or objects in the environment. It can be any offensive action, attack or procedure that is most of the times the expression of pent-up anger. Aggressive behavior can be intentional and goal-oriented or spontaneous. It can be direct or indirect, overt or covert. Aggressive behavior can be either verbal such as screaming, shouting and swearing or physical such as hitting, pinching, scratching and biting.

Causes of aggressive behavior

Aggressive behavior can be a result of physical illness, social issues, the environment around us, psychological problems, and many other things.

  • Physical illness: When the person is ill or in pain, he may feel angry and behave aggressively as the pain makes him feel discomfort and confused. Illness also can make the person frightened especially when he doesn’t know how to deal with it so, he starts to react aggressively to everything that happens around him.
  • Social issues: Sometimes when the person feels lonely, bored, lacking social contact, or having communication problems and doesn’t know how to express it or he feels that no one can understand his feelings so, he starts to be so aggressive as he feels so lonely and doesn’t know how to communicate.
  • The surrounding environment: How people were raised may play a role in their behaviors. People who grow up witnessing more forms of aggression are more likely to believe that such violence and hostility are socially acceptable. Modeling play a very important role in this case. As children always take their parents or elderly people as a role model and do whatever they do. Bandura’s famous Bobo doll experiment demonstrated that modeling can play a role in how aggression is learned. Children who watched a video clip where an adult model behaved aggressively toward a Bobo doll were more likely to imitate those actions when given the opportunity.
  • Psychological problems: Psychological problems are always reflected on people’s behaviors. When someone is depressed, he may behave aggressively due to his pent-up feelings. This can happen to someone when he loses an important person. Sometimes when people lose a friend or a family member through death, they feel so depressed, frustrated, tired and lose interest in everything. They don’t know how to express their painful feelings so they get angry for no reason and on the silliest things and behave in a very aggressive manner and this is more likely to happen to people who always suppress their feelings and don’t bring it out. Other things that cause the person to be aggressive is to be under pressure, stressed, anxious or feel as if his rights are being ignored. For example, students may be aggressive when they are stressed due to the plenty quizzes, projects, assignments and exams. People can also be so aggressive when they are anxious like what is happening nowadays to all of the people as no one knows when covid-19 will end, when life will return to be normal again, when we are going to meet our family and friends again, so people are expressing their anxiety through being aggressive.

People can also be aggressive as a side effect to some diseases like Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease, schizophrenia, autism, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and drug addiction.

Negative effects of aggressive behavior

Aggressive behavior can negatively affect many things in someone’s life. It can negatively affect his social life, career, relationships, academic life, physical and mental health, etc.

  • Social life: It causes social withdrawal and isolation. As when someone is always aggressive people start to avoid him and no one likes him or likes talking to him and so his social life becomes damaged and he starts to isolate himself from socializing.
  • Career: Aggressive behavior can cause someone to lose his job. For example, if the person is aggressive, customers won’t like him and his colleagues will try to avoid him and both the customers and his colleagues will always complain about his aggressive behavior to the manager and this can cause him to be fired. It can also cause chronic unemployment
  • Relationships: Aggressive behavior may lead to the loss of our beloved ones. It leads to Family discord, separation or divorce, and loss of child guardianship. Sometimes aggressive behavior can cause scars and pain to our beloved ones both physically and mentally.
  • Academic life: It may lead to academic failure due to poor performance at school or college. The aggressive students lose the ability to concentrate on their lessons or classes as they will always concentrate on what’s annoying them. The stress that students face and deal with can always make them aggressive and when they get aggressive, they won’t be able to concentrate and so their performance will be awful.
  • Physical health: Sometimes it leads to Physical injury due to tendency to engage in fights and due to risky or reckless behaviors, such as aggressive driving.
  • Mental health: It plays a very important role in onset or worsening on mental health disorders and sometimes it causes depression.

Other things that aggressive behavior can cause:

  • Strained or ruined interpersonal relationships
  • Legal problems, including arrest, fines, and incarceration
  • Financial instability
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Pervasive sense of hopelessness and/or helplessness

And as aggressive behavior can negatively affect us or others it can also affect objects or nature. As when someone becomes aggressive, he may throw or break anything in front of him. Moreover, when someone is aggressive, he can cut the roses, smash the tree branches or throw whatever in his hands in the street or garden.

Forms of aggressive behavior

Aggressive behavior may be physical or verbal.

Physical aggressive behavior: Physical aggressive behavior is a behavior that causes physical harm towards others. It includes hitting, kicking, biting, using weapons and breaking objects. Physical aggression can cause very serious problems as it may cause injuries and sometimes permanent disabilities.

Verbal aggressive behavior: Verbal aggressive behavior can be defined as deliberately harmful behavior that is typically both unprovoked and repeated. It is an intentional abuse of power, such as teasing, taunting, or threatening, that is initiated by one or more individuals of relatively greater status or power (by virtue of their numbers or size) against a victim of somewhat lesser status or power. Threats, teasing, criticism, and other forms of verbal aggression, all of which are types of bullying in general, occur in many schools, colleges, streets and neighborhoods.

Types of aggression

There are many types of aggressive behavior but the most commonly known are emotional/impulsive and instrumental aggressive behavior

Emotional or impulsive aggressive behavior: It refers to aggression that occurs with only a small amount of forethought or intent and that is determined primarily by impulsive emotions. Emotional aggression is the result of the extreme negative emotions we’re experiencing at the time that we aggress and is not really intended to create any positive outcomes.

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Instrumental aggressive behavior: It is the type of aggression that is intentional and planned. Instrumental aggression aims to hurt someone gain something such as attention, reward, promotion, competition, someone’s position or political power.

Difference between anger and aggression

Anger is an emotion while aggression is a behavior. In some cases, anger may turn into aggression

Anger: Anger is an acceptable emotion that anyone could feel from time to time just like sadness or happiness. Sometimes people tend to become angry to cover up other feelings such as being hurt. Feeling angry is normal, however, behaviors people exhibit when they feel angry make a difference in whether they become aggressive or not.

Aggression: Aggression is a behavior where someone tries to bully the other person or threaten him. When people behave aggressively, they don’t recognize the other person’s feelings or needs. Instead, they want the other person to give up. Behaving aggressively may become physically or emotionally abusive. Sometimes aggressive people blame others for their anger as if it’s their fault to make them mad. They don’t take responsibility for their feelings or behaviors.

How to reduce or control aggressive behavior

Aggressive behavior can be reduced or controlled by different methods such as knowing what causes aggression, choosing to express the emotion in a way other than aggression, sharing feeling with friends or family, professional counseling and many other things.

Knowing what causes aggression: If the person knows the reason behind his aggression, he may know how to control it. For example, fear is often a cause for aggression, but because it gives rise to a quick, emotional feeling, people often mistake their own fear as aggression. Thus, aggression results from a perceived threat. The person who feels threatened or frightened can sometimes arrest his aggressive behavior by saying to oneself “I’m afraid”.

Choosing to express the emotion in a way other than aggression: There are many ways to relieve someone’s pent-up emotions other then aggression. Writing down someone’s feelings is always therapeutic, or practicing some sports, or walking away from the one or the thing that caused your anger.

Sharing feelings with friends and family: The verbal release of feelings and the understanding of loved ones can prevent aggression. Since friends and family know the aggressive person, they often can allay that person’s fear by building his self-confidence.

Professional counseling: for the people who found themselves aggressive frequently, it may benefit them to ask for help from psychologists.

Other methods: Avoid negativity, manage problems quickly, avoid assumption and rash judjements, be understanding of others, be aware of remarks and actions that trigger aggression,etc.


To sum up all the ideas, aggressive behavior is reactionary and impulsive behavior that can cause serious problems when it gets out of control. It can negatively affect the person himself, others and objects. The person becomes aggressive for many reasons such as physical health , psychological problems, etc. It has many forms and types as verbal, physical, emotional and instrumental. Aggressive behavior differs from anger, but sometimes anger emotion can cause aggression. Sometimes it’s hard to be controlled but it’s not imposible. If the person knew how to deal with it and what to do if he felt angry then he can easily control it.



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Types, Causes And Effects Of Aggressive Behavior. (2021, September 06). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 6, 2022, from
“Types, Causes And Effects Of Aggressive Behavior.” Edubirdie, 06 Sept. 2021,
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