Psychosocial Correlates of Reactive and Proactive Aggression among Protesters during the Social Movement in Hong Kong

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Original languageEnglish
Article number4679
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number8
Online published13 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022



This pioneering study examined how psychosocial factors predicted reactive and proactive aggression among adolescents and young adults in Hong Kong during the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement. A total of 1027 local secondary and tertiary students (578 male, 449 female) aged from 12 to 25 years (M = 16.95, SD = 3.30) completed a questionnaire measuring political participation and attitudes, victimization experiences, aggression, life satisfaction, moral disengagement, and psychopathic traits. ANCOVA and multiple linear regression analyses were performed. The results revealed that compared with non-protesters, protestors had more negative traits and poorer well-being (higher levels of reactive aggression, moral disengagement, narcissism, and impulsivity; lower life satisfaction; more experiences of victimization by strangers related to political disputes). Nonetheless, protesters had similar psychosocial correlates of reactive and proactive aggression when compared to the non-protesters. Among the protesters, reactive aggression was positively predicted by anger towards the government, moral justification, diffusion of responsibility, impulsivity, and narcissism and negatively predicted by satisfaction with the government, advantageous comparison, and dehumanization. Furthermore, proactive aggression was positively predicted by narcissism, euphemistic language, and advantageous comparison and negatively predicted by moral justification. The implications of the findings for psychotherapy, school education, parenting, and social policies are discussed.

Research Area(s)

  • reactive aggression, proactive aggression, moral disengagement, protest, social movement, Hong Kong

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