The general aggression model: Theoretical extensions to violence

C. Nathan Dewall, Craig A. Anderson, Brad J. Bushman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

341 Scopus citations


This article discusses the General Aggression Model (GAM), which provides a comprehensive and integrative social-cognitive framework for understanding aggression and violence. After providing a brief description of the basic components of GAM, we discuss how it can be used to better understand 4 topics related to phenomena that occur primarily outside the laboratory and apply to a broad range of people. Specifically, we apply GAM to better understand intimate partner violence, intergroup violence, global climate change effects on violence, and suicide. We also explain how the tenets of GAM can be used to inform interventions aimed at reducing these forms of violence. Finally, we show how GAM can explain why people do not behave violently, such as in societies where violence is exceedingly rare. Applying GAM to violent behavior that occurs outside the laboratory adds to its explanatory power and enhances the external validity of its predictions. Because the 4 topics apply to such a broad range of people, GAM may have broader influence in fostering understanding of aggression in these domains. By increasing our understanding of the causes of violent behavior, GAM may help reduce it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-258
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • General Aggression Model
  • climate change
  • intergroup violence
  • intimate partner violence
  • suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology


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