ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (7): 788-797.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.00788

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The mediating effect of aggression motivation on the relationship between trait anger and reactive aggression: A longitudinal study

LI Rui, XIA Ling-Xiang()   

  1. Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University, Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality of Ministry of Education, Chongqing 400715, China
  • Received:2020-07-03 Published:2021-07-25 Online:2021-05-24
  • Contact: XIA Ling-Xiang
  • Supported by:
    humanities and social sciences research program of the Ministry of Education(19YJA190008)


Trait anger is an important personality factor that affects reactive aggression. Reactive aggression is based on the motivation of aggression, but the mechanism of trait anger influencing reactive aggression is not clear. This study hypothesizes that trait anger can predict reactive aggression in a longitudinal way by enhancing the specific motivation of reactive aggression (e.g., hostile motivation) and the common motivation of reactive and proactive aggression (e.g., moral approval motivation). To test this hypothesis, a total of 1007 college students from 5 provinces and cities were investigated for trait anger, hostile attribution bias (representing hostile motivation), moral disengagement (representing moral approval motivation), reactive aggression, and proactive aggression. The results showed that: (1) after controlling for gender, trait anger at Wave 1 could predict the reactive aggression at Wave 3 through the hostile attribution bias and moral disengagement at Wave 2; (2) hostile attribution bias can only predict reactive aggression longitudinally, but cannot predict proactive aggression over time; (3) moral disengagement can predict reactive aggression and proactive aggression longitudinally. This result supports the motivation model of trait anger influencing reactive aggression, develops the theory and research on the relationship between personality and aggression, and plays an active role in revealing the motivation mechanism of reactive aggression.

Key words: trait anger, reactive aggression, aggression motivation, hostile attribution bias, moral disengagement