Buss (1961) suggested that Aggression should be considered in three-dimensions, which he considered to be Physical-Verbal, Active-Passive and Direct-Indirect. The following table demonstrates some of Buss’s suggestions for the types of Aggression which exist.


Physical-active-direct. Stabbing, punching, or shooting another person
Physical-active-indirect Setting a booby trap for another person; hiring an assassin to kill an enemy.
Physical- passive-direct Physical preventing another person from obtaining a desired goal or performing a desired act (as in a sit-in demonstration)
Physical-passive-indirect Refusing to perform necessary tasks (e.g., refusal to move during a sit-in).
Verbal-active-direct Insulting or derogating another person.
Verbal-active-indirect Spreading malicious rumours or gossip about another individual.
Verbal-passive-direct Refusing to speak to another person, to answer question etc.
Verbal-passive-indirect Failing to make specific comments (e.g. failing to speak up in another persons defence when he or she is unfairly criticised.)

Although Buss has defined these types of Aggression, other anthropologists (Buss, 1961, 1971; Feshbach, 1964, 1970; Hartup, 1974) have further added to these categories by realising that aggression might not be solely based upon an intention to harm another individual (although this is still part of it). They name two further considerations as a Hostile form, and an Instrumental form of aggression. These terms refer to the fact that aggression might not always be intentionally directed toward an individual, but may be used to reach other ends. A Hostile act of aggression is therefore a type of aggression exerted for the sole function of causing harm to another person. Instrumental aggression on the other hand is the use of aggression in order to make a living barrier (an opponent) no longer a barrier. By this means, this kind of aggression does not intend to harm for harms sake, but rather is somewhat indifferent to causing harm if it achieves a desired end. For example, if an opponent stands before us; between a desired object (such as a prize, or food) then we might act aggressively towards that person in order to acquire the object. Thereby, the act of aggression was not based upon a personal vendetta, but rather used instrumentally. In other words, it is designed to “get our own way” (Tedeschi et al., 1974). Some of this behaviour has been shown by Patterson (1975) to be almost trained into animals at an early age. As a kind of ritual, this form of aggression is used by children in order to get their own way; and when they succeed, this success forms a reinforcement of their behaviour – that it has achieved their desired ends.


Even though these kinds of aggression seem fairly conclusive, there are still problems with the conception of aggression in these terms. Bandura (1973) for example proposed that harm might be inflicted in order to meet a desired ends (in gratification) or for the sake of causing harm – in which case, Hostile aggression is in fact a kind of Instrumentalism. Zillman (1979) suggested replacing the use of the terms Hostile and Instrumental with the terms Annoyance-motivated and Incentive-motivated. With this the emphasis is directly placed upon the intention a motivation behind the behaviour. The former is incited by a kind of feeling of indignant or frustration, the latter by the reward of extrinsic incentives. Behaviour is dictated by the individual’s cognitive assessment of the surrounding world and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.  According to Lorenz (1979), in humans aggression often comes from frustration; the frustration that someone is getting in the way of the achievement of an aim. Supporting this view, Geoff Thompson, an expert in this kind of combat stated that “A gratuitous aggressor in this case is someone who instigates an ego-based confrontation stemming from accidental or incidental situations such as looking at him the “wrong” way, bumping into him, being involved in a traffic collision with him, inadvertently cutting him off in traffic, swiping a parking space from him, etc” When one has bettered another, the loser will often seek to redress the [subconscious] balance of power, and therefore will attempt to overturn the higher party. This is a kind of aggression based upon relative position, most often defined by relative differences in social class or position.


In 1989, Doge and Coie suggested that Aggression comes in two forms; Proactive Aggression and Reactive Aggression. The difference, they propose, is not in the use of the aggression as a means, but in the intended ends of that aggressive behaviour. This definition also works well in the context of Eskirmologics by supporting our opinion that fighting is aggressive-resistant and depends upon an active aggression, and a reactive or defensive retaliation or response.

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