Anger and the Reactive–Proactive Aggression Distinction in Childhood and Adolescence

  • Julie A. Hubbard
  • Lydia J. Romano
  • Meghan D. McAuliffe
  • Michael T. Morrow


Years ago, Averill (1982) stressed that all anger does not result in aggression, and that all aggression is not the result of anger. The second half of this idea, that aggression can have other catalysts besides anger, foreshadows the distinction between reactive and proactive aggression. Reactive aggression is defensive, retaliatory, and in response to real or perceived provocation. Proactive aggression, on the other hand, is displayed to reach a goal, whether that goal involves material or territorial gain or social dominance. This chapter will review and critique existing empirical work demonstrating that anger is positively related to reactive aggression, but not proactive aggression, in children and adolescents. Our review will include both questionnaire-based and laboratory-based studies. We will also include a section on the assessment of reactive and proactive aggression, how this assessment is often confounded with the measurement of anger, and ideas for untangling these constructs.


Teacher Rating Relational Aggression Reactive Aggression Proactive Aggression Anger Expression 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie A. Hubbard
    • 1
  • Lydia J. Romano
    • 1
  • Meghan D. McAuliffe
    • 1
  • Michael T. Morrow
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DelawareNewarkUSA

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