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Neurological Evidence for the Relationship between Suppression and Aggressive Behavior: Implications for Workplace Aggression



Scientific research on the relationship between suppression and aggression is rather scarce. Consequently, practitioners searching for means to reduce workplace aggression do not have adequate data on which factors are related to aggressive behavior in the workplace. To shed light on this relationship, this study investigated emotional suppression in a sample of 17 participants by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and examined their aggressive behavior by using an inventory assessing five types of aggressive behavior. Results of fMRI analysis suggest that the insula, cingulate cortex, and calcarine sulcus are involved in suppression. When the blood-oxygen-level–dependent signals of all the significant regions were tested for correlation with the ratings of the five types of aggression given by the participants’ significant others (e.g. family members and/or close friends), a significant correlation was found between activation in the calcarine sulcus during suppression and property aggression. The findings not only indicate the potential neural correlates of observed aggressive behaviors but also emphasise the detrimental effect of unsuccessful, superficial emotion regulation on organisations.

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