The relationship between resting heart rate and aggression in males is racially variant

Jill Portnoy, J. Richard Jennings, Karen A. Matthews, Dustin Pardini, Adrian Raine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although resting heart rate is thought to be a generalizable risk factor for aggression, very little research has examined whether this relationship varies by race. We addressed this limitation using longitudinal data from the Pittsburgh Youth Study. Current data are from 197 men who participated in a teenage biosocial study (mean age = 15.7 years) and adult follow-up study (mean age = 32.1 years). Teenage resting heart rate interacted with race to predict teenage and adult aggression. The relationship between heart rate and aggression was significant in White, but not in Black males. To our knowledge, this is the first study to find that the relationship between resting heart rate and aggression is racially variant, suggesting that resting heart rate may not be a generalizable biomarker for conduct problems. At an intervention-level, findings could contribute to the development of more accurate risk assessment tools that take into account racial variance in risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-180
Number of pages11
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • aggression
  • biosocial
  • heart rate
  • longitudinal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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