Press CRTT to measure aggressive behavior: the unstandardized use of the competitive reaction time task in aggression research

Psychol Assess. 2014 Jun;26(2):419-32. doi: 10.1037/a0035569. Epub 2014 Jan 20.


The competitive reaction time task (CRTT) is the measure of aggressive behavior most commonly used in laboratory research. However, the test has been criticized for issues in standardization because there are many different test procedures and at least 13 variants to calculate a score for aggressive behavior. We compared the different published analyses of the CRTT using data from 3 different studies to scrutinize whether it would yield the same results. The comparisons revealed large differences in significance levels and effect sizes between analysis procedures, suggesting that the unstandardized use and analysis of the CRTT have substantial impacts on the results obtained, as well as their interpretations. Based on the outcome of our comparisons, we provide suggestions on how to address some of the issues associated with the CRTT, as well as a guideline for researchers studying aggressive behavior in the laboratory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Competitive Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reaction Time*
  • Social Behavior
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Young Adult