Archer, John and Benson, David
Physical aggression as a function of perceived fighting ability and provocation: an experimental investigation.
Aggressive Behavior, 34
In three studies, Resource Holding Power (RHP) and provocation were manipulated in scenarios involving a young person in a bar with friends. In Study 1, teenage men reported lower likelihood of responding with physical aggression when insulted as levels of three RHP cues (size, allies and reputation) increased, effects that were accentuated by combinations of high-RHP cues; in the second part of this study, they consistently rated an insult to their girlfriend as the most provoking from a range of possible provocations, chosen on theoretical and empirical grounds. Study 2 replicated the results of the first part of Study 1 in samples of men and women in their twenties, although the effects were weaker at low levels of RHP. Study 3 combined a high- or low-provoking event, with low, medium or high RHP, and a wider range of response choices. As expected, direct aggression increased as provocation increased and RHP decreased. Delayed aggressive responses, including revenge fantasies, were highest in response to high provocation and high RHP. Findings are discussed in relation to theoretical models of aggressive motivation.