Does cost-benefit analysis or self-control predict involvement in two forms of aggression?

John Archer, Andrés A. Fernández-Fuertes, Van Lal Thanzami

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31 Citations (Scopus)


The main aim of this research was to assess the relative association between physical aggression and (1) self-control and (2) costbenefit assessment, these variables representing the operation of impulsive and reflective processes. Study 1 involved direct and indirect aggression among young Indian men, and Study 2 physical aggression to dating partners among Spanish adolescents. In Study 1, perceived benefits and costs but not self-control were associated with direct aggression at other men, and the association remained when their close association with indirect aggression was controlled. In Study 2, benefits and self-control showed significant and independent associations (positive for benefits, negative for self-control) with physical aggression at other-sex partners. Although being victimized was also correlated in the same direction with self-control and benefits, perpetration and being victimized were highly correlated, and there was no association between being victimized and these variables when perpetration was controlled. These results support the theory that reflective (cost-benefit analyses) processes and impulsive (self-control) processes operate in parallel in affecting aggression. The finding that male adolescents perceived more costs and fewer benefits from physical aggression to a partner than female adolescents did is consistent with findings indicating greater social disapproval of men hitting women than vice versa, rather than with the view that male violence to women is facilitated by internalized patriarchal values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-304
Number of pages13
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Aggression between partners
  • Attitudes to partner violence
  • Costs and benefits of aggression
  • Indirect aggression
  • Physical aggression
  • Self-control
  • Victimization

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