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Cognitive Schemas and Aggressive Behavior in Adolescents: The Mediating Role of Social Information Processing

  • Esther Calvete (a1) and Izaskun Orue (a1)

This study assesses the association between cognitive schemas of justification of violence, grandiosity and abuse, and reactive and proactive aggressive behavior, and whether this association is mediated by social information processing (SIP). For this purpose, a sample of 1371 adolescents (638 girls and 580 boys) completed measures of cognitive schemas, SIP, and Reactive-Proactive Aggression. The results showed that the cognitive schemas of justification of violence and narcissism are more relevant for proactive aggression, whereas the abuse schema is more relevant for reactive aggression. SIP mediated particularly the association between cognitive schemas and reactive aggression. Each cognitive schema was shown to be associated with some particular SIP component: justification of violence and abuse with the component of interpretation, and narcissism with the experience of anger. Moreover, the abuse schema was negatively associated with the selection of aggressive responses. Lastly, a general model of paths between schemas, SIP, and aggression was found to be quite similar for boys and girls, although the former scored higher in proactive aggression, partly because of their higher scores in the justification of violence and narcissism schemas.

Este estudio evalúa las asociaciones entre los esquemas cognitivos de justificación de la violencia, grandiosidad y abuso, y la conducta agresiva reactiva y proactiva, así como si esta asociación está mediada por el procesamiento de la información social (SIP). Con este fin, 1371 adolescentes completaron medidas de esquemas cognitivos, SIP y agresividad reactiva y proactiva. Los resultados mostraron que los esquemas cognitivos de justificación de la violencia y narcisismo son más relevantes para la agresividad proactiva, mientras que el esquema de abuso lo es para la agresividad reactiva. El SIP medió especialmente la asociación entre los esquemas y la agresividad reactiva. Cada esquema cognitivo se asoció con un componente del SIP: la justificación de la violencia y el abuso con el componente de interpretación, y el narcisismo con la experiencia de enfado. Además, el esquema de abuso estuvo negativamente asociado a la selección de respuesta agresiva. Finalmente, se encontró que el modelo general de asociaciones entre esquemas, SIP y agresividad era similar para chicos y chicas, aunque los primeros puntuaron más alto en agresividad proactiva, debido, parcialmente, a sus mayores puntuaciones en los esquemas de justificación de la violencia y narcisismo.

Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Esther Calvete. Universidad de Deusto. Departmento de Psicología. Apdo. 1. 48080 Bilbao. Vizcaya. (Spain). Phone: +34-944139000 (Ext. 2847). Fax: +34-944139089. E-mail:
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