Reactive Aggression

Reactive aggression refers to a type of aggressive behavior that is primarily a response to a perceived threat, provocation, or frustration.


Reactive aggression may be triggered by various factors:

  • Threat: When an individual feels threatened by someone or something, they may react aggressively as a means of self-defense.
  • Provocation: Experiencing deliberate acts or behavior aimed at inciting anger or hostility can lead to reactive aggression.
  • Frustration: When someone feels blocked from achieving their goals or desires, they may respond in an aggressive manner.


Reactive aggression commonly exhibits the following traits:

  • Impulsive: Reactive aggression is often impulsive, with little to no premeditation.
  • Emotion-driven: It is strongly driven by emotions, such as anger, fear, or frustration, rather than rational thought processes.
  • Hostile: Reactive aggression tends to involve overt hostility towards the perceived threat or source of provocation.
  • Short-lived: Typically, reactive aggression subsides once the threat or provocation diminishes or the individual regains control of their emotions.
  • Lack of pre-planning: Unlike proactive aggression, reactive aggression lacks strategic planning and primarily focuses on immediate reactions.


Examples of reactive aggression include:

  • A person getting into a physical fight when they believe their safety is being compromised.
  • An individual yelling at someone who insulted or provoked them.
  • A driver honking aggressively and engaging in road rage after being cut off in traffic.