An important new term has come into use: Indirect Aggression (Heim, Murphy, &
Golant, 2003). This is where gossip or rumors are spread about someone or where a
person is left out, shunned, or snubbed. This behavior has been shown to be more
common among girls because girls, in general, are more eager than boys to be
accepted into their social group and to have close personal relationships. Having bad
things said about you or being neglected or avoided is very hurtful to a teenage girl.
Sometimes it is called Relational Aggression because it is designed to hurt certain
relationships in the group and build other contacts. It is a way to manipulate
relationships and create excitement. Viewing indirect aggression on TV increases this
kind of action by the viewer. Heim, Murphy and Golant are experienced in the
business world and discuss indirect aggression by women in the corporate America.
While aggression is usually a result of anger, it may be "cold" and
calculated: for example, the bomber pilot, the judge who sentences a
criminal, the unfaithful spouse, the merchant who overprices a product, or the
unemotional gang attack. To clarify aggression, some writers have classified it
according to its purpose: instrumental aggression (to get some reward, not to
get revenge), hostile aggression (to hurt someone or get revenge), and
annoyance aggression (to stop an irritant). When our aggression becomes so
extreme that we lose self-control, it is said that we are in a rage.
Aggression must be distinguished from assertiveness which is tactfully
and rationally standing up for ones own rights; indeed, assertiveness is
designed not to hurt others (see chapter 8).
Anger can also be distinguished from hostility which is a chronic state of
anger. Anger is a temporary response, which we all have, to a particular
frustrating situation; hostility is a permanent personality characteristic which
certain people have.
We know when we are very mad, but anger and aggression come in many
forms, some quite subtle. Look inside yourself for more anger. This list
(Madlow, 1972) of behaviors and verbal comments said to others or only
thought to ourselves may help you uncover some resentments you were not
Direct behavioral signs:
Assaultive: physical and verbal cruelty, rage, slapping, shoving,
kicking, hitting, threaten with a knife or gun, etc.
Aggression: overly critical, fault finding, name-calling, accusing
someone of having immoral or despicable traits or motives,
nagging, whining, sarcasm, prejudice, flashes of temper.
Hurtful: malicious gossip, stealing, trouble-making.
Rebellious: anti-social behavior, open defiance, refusal to talk.
Direct verbal or cognitive signs: