Psychiatry research

A competitively designed version of the point subtraction aggression paradigm is related to proactive aggressive and psychopathic traits in males.

PMID 28668585


The Point Subtraction Aggression Paradigm (PSAP) is a well-validated and frequently applied behavioral paradigm for provocation and quantification of reactive aggressive behavior in laboratory settings. Here, we design and test a newly developed PSAP version in its ability to quantify proactive aggressive behavior. A group of 119 male volunteers was allocated to the conventional PSAP and two other variants of the PSAP. The first PSAP adaptation intended to abet proactive aggression by monetary reward for aggressive actions. In the second variant, a highly competitive situation was created. In addition, two sets of aggression questionnaires, related to proactive and reactive aggressive and psychopathic traits, were used (Reactive-Proactive Aggression Questionnaire (RPQ), Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R)). Our results showed strong positive correlations among RPQ/PPI-R and aggressive behavior only for the new competitive version of the PSAP. In contrast, the scores of these scales showed weak and non-significant correlations with observed aggression in the two PSAP variants. The scores for reactive aggression were not significantly associated with any of the PSAP versions. These data indicate that aggression on the newly developed competitive PSAP design is mainly driven by proactive aggressive mechanisms.