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Original Article

Ego Depletion Moderates the Influence of Automatic and Controlled Precursors of Reactive Aggression

A Double Dissociation

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000233

From a dual-systems perspective, it has been proposed that predictive validity of whether individuals act out or stifle their reactive aggression will be maximized if (a) automatic and (b) controlled precursors of aggression are assessed and (c) situational boundaries in favor of acting out or restraining oneself are specified. In the present research we experimentally manipulated participants’ self-regulatory efforts in an ego depletion paradigm and subsequently measured reactive aggression in the Taylor Aggression Paradigm. Assessing automatic and controlled precursors of reactive aggression via an Implicit Association Test of Aggressiveness (Agg-IAT) and self-report reactive aggressiveness questionnaire, respectively, we demonstrated a theoretically expected double dissociation: Reactive aggression of ego depleted individuals was predicted by the implicit measure whereas non-depleted participants’ reactive aggression was predicted by their explicit self-reports. The results corroborate the usefulness of both explicit and implicit measures of aggressiveness and point to boundary conditions of these measures’ predictive validity.

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