The Role of early maladaptive schemas in adult aggression

Wayne Warburton, Doris McIlwain

    Research output: Contribution to journalOther journal contribution


    In developing his clinical tool, schema therapy, Young (1999) theorised that abusive or traumatic childhood experiences may result in the development of certain types of maladaptive schemas. We examined whether such schemas cluster in a single individual, and what the consequences of such clusters might be in terms of aggressive tendencies and the development of callous and distrustful personality styles. After administering the Young Schema Questionnaire and various other measures to 440 undergraduate students, it was found that both aggression and psychopathy demonstrated a moderatestrong relationship with schemas related to (among others) control, mistrust/abuse, emotional deprivation, subjugation, abandonment, defectiveness/failure, and vulnerability. In line with clinical theorising, high levels of one schema type were usually correlated with high levels of others, and so it indeed seems possible that early maladaptive schemas may have a common genesis that predisposes a person to various processing biases and later aggressive or psychopathic behaviour.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)17-34
    Number of pages18
    JournalPsychology, psychiatry and mental health monographs : the journal of the NSW Institute of Psychiatry
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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