Hostile attribution bias and aggression in children and adolescents: A systematic literature review on the influence of aggression subtype and gender

Research paper by A. Martinelli, K. Ackermann; A. Bernhard; C.M. Freitag; C. Schwenck

Indexed on: 03 Mar '18Published on: 04 Feb '18Published in: Aggression and Violent Behavior


Publication date: March–April 2018 Source:Aggression and Violent Behavior, Volume 39 Author(s): A. Martinelli, K. Ackermann, A. Bernhard, C.M. Freitag, C. Schwenck Hostile attributions of intention have been discussed in relation to the development and maintenance of aggressive behavior in children for over thirty years. In this time, factors such as subtypes in the function (reactive versus proactive) and form (relational versus physical) of aggression as well moderators of aggression, such as gender, have been studied in increasing detail in relation to attributions of intention. The present article reviews the literature on hostile attributions and aggressive behavior in children and adolescents under consideration of aggression subtypes and the influence of gender. Results of 27 empirical research articles show that hostile attribution biases (1) are more consistently related to reactive rather than proactive aggression, (2) show evidence for separate pathways between relational and physical aggression and the respective attribution bias, and (3) are associated with aggression in both genders, with no clear gender differences in association strength. Implications for cognitive training to reduce attribution bias in treatment of childhood aggression and an outlook on further research domains are discussed.