The Relationship Between Perspective-Taking and Nonaggressive Responding in the Face of an Attack
Perspective-taking functions as an inhibitor of interpersonal aggression and as a facilitator of prosocial behavior. The present study examined the extent to which perspective-taking enhances nonaggressive responses in a situation in which people typically make aggressive responses. It also examined the relationship between perspective-taking and response to interpersonal context. Subjects participated in a reaction-time task in which they could respond either aggressively or nonaggressively in two different interpersonal contexts (i.e., the target either increased or decreased provocation during the interaction). As predicted, perspective-taking was related to the inhibition of aggressive responding and the facilitation of nonaggressive responding. In general, perspective-taking was associated with less aggression, including relatively more positive and fewer negative responses. This was especially the case in the interpersonal context in which the target had increased provocation across the trials of the task.