The psychological structure of aggression across cultures

Laura Severance, Lan Bui-Wrzosinska, Michele J. Gelfand, Sarah Lyons, Andrzej Nowak, Wojciech Borkowski, Nazar Soomro, Naureen Soomro, Anat Rafaeli, Dorit Efrat Treister, Chun Chi Lin, Susumu Yamaguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


To date, the vast majority of the research on aggression has been conducted on Western samples. This research expands the culture-bound understanding of aggression by examining universal and culture-specific dimensions that underlie the psychological structure of aggression. Drawing on cultural logics of honor, dignity, and face, we examine the construal of aggression across Pakistan, Israel, Japan, and the United States. Multidimensional scaling analyses revealed potentially universal dimensions of aggression. In all four nations, dimensions of damage to self-worth and direct versus indirect aggression emerged, and a physical versus verbal aggression emerged in Pakistan, Israel, and Japan. In addition, an infringement to personal resources dimension emerged in the United States and Israel, and a degree of threat dimension emerged in Pakistan. Further, results demonstrated cultural specificity in terms of (i) where aggressive behaviors fell along each dimension and (ii) meanings that defined each dimension across cultures. These findings have implications for the prevention and attenuation of intercultural conflicts as well as the advancement of the cross-cultural psychology and the aggression literatures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-865
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Aggression
  • Conflict resolution
  • Cross-cultural psychology
  • Negotiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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