Date of Award

Summer 8-10-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Connie Lamm

Second Advisor

Robert Laird

Third Advisor

Gerald Lahoste


Aggression and violence are social behaviors that exact a significant toll on human societies. Individuals with aggressive tendencies display deficits in effortful control, particularly in affectively charged situations. However, not all individuals with poor effortful control are aggressive. This study uses event-related potentials (ERPs) to decompose the chronology of cognitive functions underlying the link between effortful control and aggression. Specifically, this study investigates which ERPs moderate the effortful control - aggression association. We examined three successive ERP components (P2, N2 and P3) for stimuli that required effortful control. Results indicated that N2 activation, but not P2 or P3 activation, moderated the relationship between effortful control and aggression. These effects were present in negative and neutral contexts. This moderating effect was consistent with previous studies linking neural processing efficiency with reduced activation during cognitive control tasks. Our results suggest that efficient cognitive processing moderates the association between effortful control and aggression.


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