Self-control and aggression

Thomas F. Denson, C. Nathan DeWall, Eli J. Finkel

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Psychological science has largely neglected the role of self-control in studying aggression. Fortunately, the past half decade has witnessed a surge of research on this long-neglected topic, including two self-control-informed integrative theories of aggression. Robust experimental evidence demonstrates that self-control failures frequently predict aggression and, conversely, that bolstering self-control decreases aggression. Research on rumination also suggests that maladaptive anger regulation decreases self-control and, consequently, increases aggression. Advances from social-affective and cognitive neuroscience suggest that the neural mechanisms involved in emotion regulation and cognitive control mediate the relationship between deficient self-control and aggression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-25
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • aggression
  • rumination
  • self-control
  • social neuroscience


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