Integrating contemporary aggression theory with violent offender treatment: How thoroughly do interventions target violent behavior?
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Social cognitive theory and research have made important contributions to contemporary understandings of aggression and violence. At present, however, the domains of aggression theory and its applied counterpart, violent offender treatment, have progressed as relatively disparate fields with little intersection between theory and practice. In this paper we describe the present state of aggression theory and consider the evidence available to support its hypothesized mechanisms, paying particular attention to the most under-researched aspect: aggression-related cognitions. Approaches to the treatment of violent offenders are then examined with regard to their theoretical underpinnings and the extent to which they target constructs designated as contributing to aggression propensity by the most comprehensive and contemporary theory of aggression, the General Aggression Model (GAM; Anderson & Bushman, 2002; Anderson & Carnagey, 2004; Anderson, Gentile, & Buckley, 2007). In conclusion, we argue that additional research is required to more fully explore the constructs implicated in aggressive behavior by the GAM in clinical populations, and that improved integration between theory and practice is required, specifically, that the literature underpinning the GAM ought to be drawn upon to improve the efficacy of violent offender treatment. © 2009.