Do we repress aggression the same way we repress sexual urges?

"There is enough treachery, hatred, violence, absurdity in the average human being to supply any given army on any given day" --Bukowski

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    $\begingroup$ This looks like the start to a good question, but if you want to increase the chances of it getting answered, I would suggest maybe adding some background of what knowledge you already have, as well as the research you've already done and maybe even I hypothesis you would like answered. $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Commented May 4, 2014 at 1:01

2 Answers 2


There is at least one somewhat influential theory according to which inhibition of sexual urges, aggressive urges, and many others (such as inhibition of racist behaviour for prosocial reasons) depend on a common pool of resources: the so-called ego depletion theory. Ego depletion means that inhibiting urges draws from a finite resource, and once it is spend, inhibition becomes harder and harder. Some experiments seem to show that inhibition in one domain (having to do a hard math test) makes it harder to consecutively inhibit in another domain (inhibit racist thoughts).

Even more general, according to general arousal theory, there is much overlap between sexual arousal and many possible reasons for aggression, such as fear; entailing that a general competence of arousal management supports both violence control and sexual control.

However, as is, the question is too broad to answer. Aggression is not repressed in only one way, and neither are sexual urges.


Baumeister, R. F. and Vohs, K. D. (2007), Self-Regulation, Ego Depletion, and Motivation. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 1: 115–128. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2007.00001.x

  • $\begingroup$ Note that ego depletion has since been largely discredited, as more recent meta-analyses failed to find a strong effect. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 0:27

The question is a bit vague. If you are asking whether we normally do repress aggression in general, then there is much reason to believe so. In research studies, America and Japan are often used to show cultural differences. One of the bigger differences between these two cultures is how Japanese children are taught to repress anger. Anger, or aggression, is socially unacceptable in Japan, but not in western cultures. ALso, most people easily learn with age that showing anger\aggression is not a good way to get along with other people, and that sooner or later we will need other people's help. We are evolutionary fit for keeping together and cooperating in communities, because that is how our species has survived.

Here's some links related to cultural differences in showing aggression, telling us that some cultures repress aggression more than others:

Park et al. found that Americans who reported lower subjective social status were more likely to report being angry, with the link between status and anger mediated by level of frustration. Conversely, objectively higher status Japanese were more likely to report anger, with the link between status and anger mediated by decision-making authority. These results suggest culture moderates the link between an individual’s expression of anger and his or her social status. http://thepsychreport.com/research-lead/nov-dec-2013/social-status-and-anger-expression-the-cultural-moderation-hypothesis/

Briggs lived as the daughter of an Utku family describing their society as particularly unique emotional control. She rarely observed expressions of anger or aggression and if it were expressed, it resulted in ostracism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotions_and_culture


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