Perceptions, emotions, and behavioral decisions in conflicts that escalate to violence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study tests the notion that cost-benefit considerations guide individuals' emotional and behavioral responses when confronting an aggressive male stranger. Data was derived from hypothetical situations, with varying levels of opponent dangerousness and aggression severity, presented to 212 male and female students. Results indicate that the less dangerous the opponent and/or the more severe his aggression, the more intense are the respondents' expected emotions of anger and fear and the higher the intended severity of respondents' counter-aggression. While the expected emotional experience for female participants is more intense than for males, the intended behavioral counter-aggression is more severe for male participants than for females. Finally, an association between emotional experience and behavioral response was found only among males and it was mediated by opponent levels of dangerousness and aggression severity. Findings support the cost-benefit notion and emphasize the importance of studying aggression from an event perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-136
Number of pages12
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Aggression
  • Anger
  • Behavioral regulation
  • Conflict
  • Emotional regulation
  • Escalation
  • Fear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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