When do normative beliefs about aggression predict aggressive behavior? An application of I3 theory

Jian-Bin Li, Yan-Gang Nie, Ian Boardley, Kai Dou, Qiao-Min Situ

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12 Citations (Scopus)
422 Downloads (Pure)


I3 theory assumes that aggressive behavior is dependent on three orthogonal processes (i.e., Instigator, Impellance, and Inhibition). Previous studies showed that Impellance (trait aggressiveness, retaliation tendencies) better predicted aggression when Instigator was strong and Inhibition was weak. In the current study, we predicted that another Impellance (i.e., normative beliefs about aggression) might predict aggression when Instigator was absent and Inhibition was high (i.e., the perfect calm proposition). In two experiments, participants first completed the normative beliefs about aggression questionnaire. Two weeks later, participants’ self-control resources were manipulated either using the Stroop task (study 1, N¼148) or through an “ecrossing” task (study 2, N¼180). Afterwards, with or without being provoked, participants played a game with an ostensible partner where they had a chance to aggress against them. Study 1 found that normative beliefs about aggression negatively and
significantly predicted aggressive behavior only when provocation was absent and self-control resources were not depleted. In Study 2, normative beliefs about aggression negatively predicted aggressive behavior at marginal significance level only in the “no-provocation and no-depletion” condition. In conclusion, the current study provides partial support for the perfect calm
proposition and I3 theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-555
Number of pages12
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number6
Early online date15 Jun 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jun 2015


  • Aggression
  • self-control
  • normative beliefs about aggression
  • provocation
  • I3 theory


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