Examples of instrumental aggression include armed robbery, shoplifting, bombing cities to win a war and a parent physically disciplining their child to make them behave differently. Instrumental aggression is aggression for the purpose of gaining a reward or outcome. Instrumental aggression is also known as proactive aggression.
Instrumental aggression is often perpetrated by those who have a cold or unemotional personality. It is associated with a lack of guilt and empathy. The contrasting type of aggression is called hostile or impulsive aggression, which is aggression for the purpose of injuring another person. Impulsive aggression may be linked to lower serotonin levels in the brain. Those who commit instrumental aggression are more likely to commit repeated acts of aggression. Many acts of aggression can have both instrumental and impulsive characteristics.
Aggression can also be separated into categories of individual and group aggression. Impulsive aggression is more common for acts of individual aggression, whereas instrumental aggression is more common among acts of group aggression. This is because individual acts of aggression are most often committed by those lacking in social skills and development, while group acts of aggression require social skills and leadership. A group of people working together is less likely to act based on their emotions, and the aggression they commit is usually a means to an end.