Making a Case for a Single Motivation of Aggressive Behavior Lots of research in recent years has distinguished between two types of aggressive behavior: reactive aggression and proactive (or instrumental). So what distinguishes one from the other? Simply stated, reactive aggression is a response to something, whereas proactive aggression is not. It is also referred to as instrumental aggression because it can be seen as a means to a particular end. This distinction seems to make intuitive sense and the research seems to reinforce intuition in this instance. However, despite the surface differences between these forms of aggression, is it possible that something is missing? Is it possible that all aggression is reactive, or defensive, in nature? Consider the neurobiological home of aggression, the fight-or-fight (FoF) response of the nervous system. Aggression does not exist without arousal of the FoF system. Therefore, it stands to reason that even proactive aggression is caused by the brain’s perception of a threat that may warrant activation of the FoF system. After all, it is the FoF response. In order for a response to be elicited, there must be a stimulus that is being responded to. It is by this logic that it may […]