Aggressive Behavior

Overview and Meaning

In an agonistic interaction, the presence of aggressive behaviors following threat behavior indicate escalated aggression.


Aggressive behaviors are most commonly seen in unstable or forming hierarchies, or when animals intrude upon a territory. Aggressive behaviors continue, and escalate in intensity to become full-blown fighting. A fight is terminated by fleeing of submissive behaviors; or by the castration or death of one of the animals involved.


Female aggression increases during pregnancy and lactation, and can be directed toward both males and females. Males tend to direct aggression primarily at other males.

(Biology of the House Mouse)


Aggressive behavior is a form of Agonistic Interaction, reflecting a Behavior chain of individual goal directed behaviors, which include:

  1. Boxing
  2. Parrying
  3. Aggressive Bite
  4. Attack
  5. Fighting


Agonistic Interactions


Agonistic interactions can occur in the context of territorial behavior, and/or dominance behavior.  Territorial behavior and dominance behavior differ in both the context that they occur, the resources under competition, and the threat behavior that initiates the interaction.