The Cognitive Approach. Cognitive psychologists assert that our behavior is influenced by our values, by the ways in which we interpret our situations and by choice. For example, people who believe that aggression is necessary and justified-as during wartime-are likely to act aggressively, whereas people who believe that a particular war or act of aggression is unjust, or who think that aggression is never justified, are less likely to behave aggressively. One cognitive theory suggests that aggravating and painful events trigger unpleasant feelings. These feelings, in turn, can lead to aggressive action, but not automatically. Cognitive factors intervene. People decide whether they will act aggressively or not on the basis of factors such as their experiences with aggression and their interpretation of other people’s motives. Supporting evidence comes from research showing that aggressive people often distort other people’s motives. For example, they assume that other people mean them harm when they do not.
According to the cognitive approach described in the paragraphs, WHICH of the following may influence the decision whether to act aggressively