Aggression is a behavioral characteristic that refers to forceful actions or procedures (such a deliberate attack) with intentions to dominate or master. It tends to be hostile, injurious, or destructive, and is often motivated by frustration (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 1995). For an individual, aggressive behavior is considered understandable and normal under appropriate circumstances, but when it is frequent, intense, lasting, and pervasive, it is more likely to be a symptom of a mental disorder. Likewise, aggression between groups, can be in the form of healthy competition, but can become harmful when unfair or unjust disadvantage or frustration is perceived, leading to hostility (Brown, 1986).
Psychopathy is a mental disorder that is characterized by egocentricism, impulsivity, irresponsibility, shallow emotions, and lack of empathy, guilt, or remorse. Pathological lying, manipulativeness, and persistent violation of social norms and expectations are also typical of psychopathic behavior (Hare, 1996). This selfishness, manipulativeness, and continual social deviance are often displayed by aggressive behavior that is psychopathological, due to its connection with psychopathy.
As a manifestation of the disorder itself, the factors that cause psychopathy result in its aggressive behavior. Hare (1996) theorized that psychopathy may be related to cerebral dysfunction “reflecting structural or functional abnormalities in the brain mechanisms and circuitry…responsible for the coordination of cognitive and affective processes (Intrator et al., 1995).” Damage to the medial temporal cortex, amygdala, and particularly of the orbito/ventromedial frontal cortex, has been correlated with “dissociation...
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Geis, F.L., Brown, V., Jennings, J., & Corrado-Taylor, D. (1996). Sex vs. status in sex-associated stereotypes. Sex Roles, 11, 771-785.
Hare, R.D. (1996). Psychopathy: A clinical construct whose time has come. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 23, 25-54.
Inman, M.L., & Baron, R.S. (1995). Influence of prototypes on perceptions of prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 727-739.
Oltmanns, T.F., Neale, J.M., & Davison, G.C. (1991). Case studies in abnormal psychology (pp.136-147). New York: Wiley.
Wittenbrink, B., Judd, C.M., & Park, B. (1997). Evidence for racial prejudice at the implicit level and its relationship with questionnaire measures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 262-274.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary (home and office ed.). (1995). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
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