Impulsive and premeditated aggression: A factor analysis of self- reported acts

Ernest S. Barratt, Matthew S. Stanford, Lynn Dowdy, Michele J. Liebman, Thomas A. Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

232 Scopus citations


Although aggression research in general has been hampered by a lack of objective measurements of aggressive acts, two types of aggressive acts, impulsive vs. premeditated, have been studied extensively in recent years. These two types of aggression have been primarily measured by structured or semi-structured interviews. The current study was designed to assess the construct validity of these two types of aggression using a self-report questionnaire which included items gleaned from the content of interviews used in past studies. For this study, 216 college students assessed their own aggressive acts rather than answering general questions about aggression. The students were not significantly different from normative sample groups on self-report measures of impulsiveness, aggression, and anger/hostility. A PCA factor analysis with a promax rotation of the items on the self-report questionnaire identified four factors: impulsive aggression; mood on the day the act occurred; premeditated aggression; and agitation. Thus, impulsive and premeditated aggression are independent constructs which exist in varying degrees among these 'normal' persons in a non-clinical sample. Impulsive aggression was characterized in part by feelings of remorse following the acts and by thought confusion. Premeditated aggression was related to social gain and dominance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-173
Number of pages11
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 31 1999


  • Aggressive acts questionnaire
  • Construct validity
  • Normal college students
  • Principal component analysis
  • Psychometrics
  • Self- report

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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