Deutsch: Gewalt / Español: Violencia / Português: Violência / Français: Violence / Italiano: Violenza

Violence in psychology refers to behaviors that inflict harm or intend to harm others. It encompasses a range of actions from physical aggression to psychological abuse, each with profound impacts on both victims and perpetrators. Violence is an aggression that has as its goal extreme physical harm, such as injury or death.


In psychology, violence is analyzed not just as an individual or isolated phenomenon, but as a complex behavior influenced by an interplay of personal, social, and environmental factors. Psychologists study the causes, manifestations, and consequences of violent behavior to understand its roots and develop effective interventions. Factors contributing to violent behavior include psychological disorders, traumatic experiences, socio-economic conditions, and exposure to violence in the environment or media.

The psychological impact of experiencing or witnessing violence can be severe and long-lasting, affecting an individual's emotional stability, cognitive functioning, and overall mental health. This can lead to conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, and various forms of depression.

Application Areas

Understanding violence within psychology is crucial for several professional domains, including:

  • Clinical psychology: Treatment and management of aggressive behaviors and rehabilitation of individuals who exhibit violent behaviors.
  • Forensic psychology: Assessment of individuals involved in criminal activities related to violence and providing expert testimony in legal cases.
  • Community psychology: Developing programs to reduce violence in communities by addressing its root causes and helping at-risk populations.

Well-Known Examples

Prominent psychological studies and theories related to violence include:

  • Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory: This theory emphasizes the role of observed behavior in learning, suggesting that violence can be learned through observing violent behavior in others, particularly influential during childhood.
  • The General Aggression Model (GAM): This framework proposes that both personal and situational variables contribute to aggressive behavior, which can escalate into violence under certain conditions.

Treatment and Risks

The risks associated with violence in psychological contexts are significant, impacting not only the direct victims but also families, communities, and society at large. Psychological interventions may include therapy to manage anger or impulse control, counseling for trauma survivors, and community-based programs aimed at preventing violence.

Similar Terms

In psychology, similar but distinct terms related to violence include:

  • Aggression: Often a precursor to violence, aggression can be manifest as threats or harmful actions that may not reach the threshold of violence.
  • Abuse: This term specifically refers to patterns of behavior that are used to gain power over another person, which can be physical, emotional, or psychological.


Articles with 'Violence' in the title

  • Domestic Violence: Domestic Violence is defined as violence within the family or between husband and wife or partners. Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in a relationship where one partner seeks to exert power and control over the other
  • Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) refers to a pattern of coercive behavior designed to exert power and control over a person in an intimate relationship through the use of intimidation, threats, or harmful or harassing behavior


In psychology, violence is viewed through the lens of its psychological underpinnings and effects. By understanding the factors that contribute to violent behavior, psychologists can develop better strategies for prevention and treatment, ultimately aiming to reduce the prevalence and impact of violence in society.


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