ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (3): 270-280.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2022.00270

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

How does emotion shape aggressive behavior of violent offenders? An explanation based on emotion regulation theory

LIU Yuping1, ZHOU Bingtao2, YANG Bo2()   

  1. 1School of Criminal Justice, China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing 100088, China
    2School of Sociology, China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing 100088, China
  • Received:2021-03-26 Published:2022-03-25 Online:2022-01-25
  • Contact: YANG Bo
  • Supported by:
    the national key R & D Program(2018YFC0831002)


Based on emotion regulation theory, the present study takes violent offenders as participants, and explores the role of emotion in the process of aggression through two studies. Study 1 used the adapted reaction-time competition paradigm to measure aggressive behavior. The results showed that emotion regulation motivation played a complete mediating role between negative affect and aggression, which confirmed that violent offenders would conduct aggressive behavior in order to regulate emotions in negative affectional states. Study 2 further showed that aggression can indeed play a role in regulating emotions. Specifically, in violent offenders, reactive aggression will be accompanied by the improvement of positive affect and the decline of negative affect; after proactive aggression, both positive and negative affect of individuals will increase. The present study confirmed the emotion regulation theory of aggression from two aspects: the expectation of aggression result and the actual effect of aggression, and put forward a new explanation for the role of emotion in the process of aggression. In the future research and practice, individuals should try to avoid adjusting emotions through aggression, and we can guide them to use reasonable ways to adjust emotions to reduce the occurrence of aggressive behavior.

Key words: emotion regulation theory, negative affect, positive affect, aggressive behavior, violent offenders