Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

pp 1-6

Date: Latest Version


  • Florian van LeeuwenAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, Aarhus University Email author 


Assault; Attack; Hostility; Violence; War


Aggression generally refers to the intended harming or targeted injury of one organism by another.


Among humans and other animals, there exists a variety of behaviors by which individuals try to impose costs on other individuals. Male walruses fight for dominance, lions hunt for prey, a man smashes a mosquito, a woman poisons her abusive husband, etc. Given this variety of aggressive behaviors, aggression is sometimes defined in broad, abstract terms (e.g., the targeted infliction of disorder on one organism by another; Tooby and Cosmides 2010). Sometimes aggression is defined in more specific terms to demarcate a subset of aggressive behaviors (e.g., using the term indirect aggression for inflicting harm via the manipulation of other people or gossip). Researchers in biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, public health, psychiatry, and political science have worked to document and understand aggressive behavi ...

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