Aggressive and confrontational people who become perpetrators of violence can be easily identified by a “red triad” of personality traits, a Texan researcher told a conference on reducing aggression on Saturday.
William Ickes, a personality and social psychologist from the University of Texas, Arlington, told the 22nd world meeting of the International Society for Research on Aggression at the University of NSW, there are three traits that reliably predict extremely rude and confrontational people.
“They are amoral and don’t adhere to conventional morality, thin-skinned so don’t take criticism well and hot-headed so they quickly get angry and aggressive,” he said.
“Aggressive people are prepared to escalate confrontational situations by doggedly standing their ground which can easily spill into violence,” he said. “People who display the red triad character traits are more likely to be described as domestic terrorists who tend to get pissed off very easily and violate the norms of polite society because they think those rules don’t apply to them. Religious terrorists tend to differ in that they have an ideology they adhere to.”
Ickes has been studying aggression with his research team since 2011, asking a host of questions about how quickly people become confrontational. The research he presented in Sydney on Saturday was the result of tests involving more than 900 people whom he tested on a rudeness scale. He first became interested in studying aggression when he received British writer Lynne Truss’ book Talk to the Hand as a Christmas present.
– Helen Pitt