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Displaced Aggression

Definition

Direct aggression follows the tit-for-tat rule that governs most social interaction: A provocation or frustration elicits verbally or physically aggressive behavior that is directed toward the source of that provocation or frustration, typically matching or slightly exceeding its intensity. In displaced aggression, an aggressive behavior is directed at a person or other target (e.g., a pet) that is not the source of the aggressionarousing provocation or frustration. Displaced aggression occurs when it is impossible or unwise to respond aggressively toward the source of the provocation or frustration.

History and Modern Usage

Sigmund Freud discussed displaced aggression. For example, if a man receives strong criticism from his boss, it would be unwise to retaliate by verbally or physically assaulting him. Instead, at a later time, he might insult ...

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