The competitive reaction time task

the development and scientific utility of a flexible laboratory aggression paradigm

Wayne A. Warburton*, Brad J. Bushman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/opinion

9 Citations (Scopus)


Laboratory measures play an important role in the study of aggression because they allow researchers to make causal inferences. However, these measures have also been criticized. In particular, the competitive reaction time task (CRTT) has been criticized for allowing aggression to be operationalized in multiple ways, leaving it susceptible to “p-hacking.” This article describes the development of the CRTT and the ways in which its paradigm flexibility and analytic flexibility allows it to test a wide range of hypotheses and research questions. This flexibility gives the CRTT significant scientific utility, but as with any research paradigm, comes with the obligation that it has to be used with integrity. Although safeguards exist and there is little evidence of misuse, study preregistration can increase confidence in CRTT findings. The importance of findings such as those of Hyatt et al. (in press), which provide further evidence for the validity of the CRTT, are also noted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-396
Number of pages8
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • aggression
  • analytic flexibility
  • competitive reaction-time task
  • laboratory measures
  • noise blast

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