An Integrated Review of Indirect, Relational, and Social Aggression


Relational aggression, social aggression, indirect aggression, men vs women


Over the last decade, researchers have found that girls may be just as aggressive as boys when manipulative forms of aggression, such as gossiping and spreading rumors, are included. These forms of aggression are known by 3 different names: indirect aggression, relational aggression, and social aggression. This review examines their commonalities and differences, and concludes that they are essentially the same form of aggression. We show that analogous forms are not found in other species. We offer a functional account: indirect aggression is an alternative strategy to direct aggression, enacted when the costs of direct aggression are high, and whose aim is to socially exclude, or harm the social status of, a victim. In this light, we consider sex differences and developmental trends and the impact of this aggression on victims. We conclude that indirect, relational, and social aggression are much more similar than they are different, and we suggest ways in which future research can be facilitated by integrating the three areas under an adaptive framework.

Original Publication Citation

Archer, J., & Coyne, S. M. (2005). An integrated review of indirect, relational, and social aggression. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 9, 212-230.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Personality and Social Psychology Review




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor