A Social Cognitive Analysis of Antagonism and Reactive Aggression
Antagonistic people are hostile and prone to reactive aggression under conditions of provocation. It is useful to understand these dynamics in terms of social cognitive mechanisms, which can focus on questions of reactivity. Antagonistic people find hostile stimuli more compelling, but they are also prone to perceive hostility when it might not exist. When provoked, antagonistic people feel more justified in retaliating or acting aggressively. Underlying these interpersonal processes are more specific cognitive mechanisms. When stimuli compete for attention, antagonism predicts the extent to which hostile stimuli are selected for further processing. Hostile thoughts have a greater impact at higher levels of antagonism in part because they are not self-regulated and behavioral tendencies are more approach oriented among antagonistic people. The present chapter reviews mechanisms of this type, which can provide an explanatory basis for understanding why the trait of antagonism has the correlates it does.
Robinson, Michael D., Benjamin M. Wilkowski, & Brian P. Meier (2019). In Joshua D. Miller & Donald R. Lynam (Eds.), The Handbook of Antagonism (141-154). London: Academic Press.
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