Background: Aggression is often divided into reactive and proactive forms. Reactive aggression is typically thought to encompass ‘blaming others’ and ‘assuming the worst’, while proactive aggression relates to ‘self-centeredness’ and ‘minimising/mislabelling’. Aim: Our aim was to evaluate relationships between reactive and proactive aggression and cognitive distortions and to test whether changes in these cognitions relate to changes in aggression. Methods: A total of 151 adolescents (60% boys; mean age 15.05 years, standard deviation 1.28) were enrolled in an evidence-based intervention to reduce aggression. Due to attrition and anomalous responses, the post-intervention sample involved 80 adolescents. Correlation and linear regression analyses were used to investigate the relationship between cognitive distortions and aggression. Results: Blaming others was related to reactive aggression before the intervention, while all cognitive distortions were related to proactive aggression both pre- and post-intervention. Changes in reactive aggression were uniquely predicted by blaming others, while changes in proactive aggression were predicted by changes in cognitive distortions overall. Conclusion: To our knowledge, this study is the first to show a relationship between changes in cognitive distortions and changes in aggression. Treatment of reactive aggression may benefit from focusing primarily on reducing cognitive distortions involving misattribution of blame to others.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2017|