Real-Time Decision Making and Aggressive Behavior in Youth: A Heuristic Model of Response Evaluation and Decision (RED)

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Abstract

Considerable scientific and intervention attention has been paid to judgment and decision-making systems associated with aggressive behavior in youth. However, most empirical studies have investigated social-cognitive correlates of stable child and adolescent aggressiveness, and less is known about real-time decision making to engage in aggressive behavior. A model of realtime decision making must incorporate both impulsive actions and rational thought. The present paper advances a process model(response evaluation and decision;RED) of real-time behavioral judgments and decision making in aggressive youths with mathematic representations that may be used to quantify response strength. These components are a heuristic to describe decision making, though it is doubtful that individuals always mentally complete these steps. RED represents an organization of social-cognitive operations believed to be active during the response decision step of social information processing. The model posits that RED processes can be circumvented through impulsive responding. This article provides a description and integration of thoughtful, rational decision making and nonrational impulsivity in aggressive behavioral interactions.

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