Aggression after traumatic brain injury: Analysing socially desirable responses and the nature of aggressive traits.

Kevin F. W. Dyer, Rob Bell, John McCann, Robert Rauch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Primary objective: To compare patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) with controls on sub-types of aggression and explore the role of social desirability.
Design: Quasi-experimental, matched-participants design.
Methods and procedures: Sixty-nine participants were included in the study. The sample comprised a TBI group (n = 24), a spinal cord injury (SCI) group (n = 21) and an uninjured (UI) group of matched healthy volunteers (n = 24). Participants were given self-report measures of aggression, social desirability and impulsivity. Sixty-one independent ‘other-raters’ were nominated, who rated participant pre-morbid and post-morbid aggression.
Main outcomes and results: Using standardized norms, 25–39% of participants with TBI were classified as high average–very high on anger and 35–38% as high average–very high on verbal aggression. Other-raters rated participants with TBI as significantly higher on verbal aggression than SCI and UI participants. There were no differences between the groups on physical aggression. The TBI group also had higher levels of impulsivity than SCI and UI groups. Social desirability was a highly significant predictor of self-reported aggression for the entire sample.
Conclusions: Impulsive verbal aggression and anger are the principal aggressive traits after brain injury. Physical aggression may present in extreme cases after TBI, but appears less prominent overall in this population. Social desirability, previously overlooked in research examining TBI aggression, emerged as an influential variable that should be considered in future TBI research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1163-1173
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Injury
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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