Passive-aggressive behavior

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Passive–aggressive behavior is characterized by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation.[1]

Personality disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders revision IV (DSM-IV) describes passive–aggressive personality disorder as a "pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in social and occupational situations."

Passive–aggressiveness may not be necessarily a personality disorder. Personality disorder includes deviation in affectivity, cognition, control over impulses and need for gratification, ways of perceiving and thinking, and inflexible, maladaptive, or otherwise dysfunctional behaviour. There must be personal distress attributable to such behaviour. Deviation must be stable and of long duration.

Concept in different areas


In psychology, passive-aggressive behavior is characterized by a habitual pattern of non-active resistance to expected work requirements, opposition, sullenness, stubbornness, and negative attitudes in response to requirements for normal performance levels expected by others. Most frequently it occurs in the workplace, where resistance is exhibited by indirect behaviors as procrastination, forgetfulness, and purposeful inefficiency, especially in reaction to demands by authority figures, but it can also occur in interpersonal contexts.[2]

Another source characterizes passive–aggressive behavior as: "a personality trait marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes and characterized by passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to complying with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations. Behaviors: learned helplessness, procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible".[3] Other examples of passive–aggressive behavior might include avoiding direct or clear communication, evading problems, fear of intimacy or competition, making excuses, blaming others, obstructionism, "playing the victim", feigning compliance with requests, sarcasm, backhanded compliments, and hiding anger.[4][5]

Conflict theory

In conflict theory, passive–aggressive behavior can resemble a behavior better described as catty, as it consists of deliberate, active, but carefully veiled hostile acts which are distinctively different in character from the non-assertive style of passive resistance.[6]


Passive–aggressive behavior from workers and managers is damaging to team unity and productivity. In the ad for Warner's online ebook, it says: "The worst case of passive–aggressive behavior involves destructive attitudes such as negativity, sullenness, resentment, procrastination, 'forgetting' to do something, chronic lateness, and intentional inefficiency."[citation needed] If this behavior is ignored it could result in decreased office efficiency and frustration among workers.[7] If managers are passive–aggressive in their behavior, it can end up stifling team creativity. De Angelis says, "It would actually make perfect sense that those promoted to leadership positions might often be those who on the surface appear to be agreeable, diplomatic and supportive, yet who are actually dishonest, backstabbing saboteurs behind the scenes."[8]


Passive–aggressive behavior was first defined clinically by Colonel William Menninger during World War II in the context of men's reaction to military compliance. Menninger described soldiers who were not openly defiant but expressed their aggressiveness "by passive measures, such as pouting, stubbornness, procrastination, inefficiency, and passive obstructionism" due to what Menninger saw as an "immaturity" and a reaction to "routine military stress".[9]

According to some psychoanalytic views, noncompliance is not indicative of true passive–aggressive behavior, which may instead be defined as the manifestation of emotions that have been repressed based on a self-imposed need for acceptance.

See also


  1. ^ "Passive–aggressive | Definition of Passive–aggressive". Oxford Dictionaries | English. Retrieved 2017-09-28.
  2. ^ American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV. Washington, DC: American Psychiatic Association. pp. 733–734. ISBN 0890420629.
  3. ^ "Passive–aggressive personality disorder-diagnostic criteria".
  4. ^ "What is Passive Aggressive Behaviour?".
  5. ^ "10 Things Passive–aggressive People Say".
  6. ^ Simon, George (2010), In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, Parkhurst
  7. ^ Harms, Kimberly A. (May–June 2012), Passive Aggressive Behaviour in the Dental Office (3 ed.).
  8. ^ De Angelis, Paula (2009), Blindsided: Recognizing and Dealing with Passive–aggressive Leadership in the Workplace, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, p. 3, ISBN 1442159200.
  9. ^ Lane, C (1 February 2009), "The Surprising History of Passive–aggressive Personality Disorder" (PDF), Theory & Psychology, 19 (1): 55–70, doi:10.1177/0959354308101419


  • Kantor, Martin (2002), Passive-aggression: a guide for the therapist, the patient and the victim, Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, ISBN 0-275-97422-7, retrieved April 27, 2010.
  • Wetzler, Scott (1992), Living with the Passive–aggressive Man, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 9781451640175, retrieved April 27, 2010.
  • Oberlin, Loriann Hoff (2005), Overcoming Passive-Aggression: How to Stop Hidden Anger From Spoiling Your Relationships, Career and Happiness, Perseus, p. 45, archived from the original on 2014-01-04
  • Femenia, N. & Warner, N. (2012),The Silent Marriage: How Passive Aggression Steals Your Happiness (The Complete Guide to Passive Aggression) [Kindle Edition]|
  • Nicholas James Long; Jody E. Long; Signe Whitson (2008). The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive–aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces. Pro ed. ISBN 978-1416404231.

External links

  • What is Passive Aggressive Behavior and How To Nip it in the Bud
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Passive-aggressive behavior"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA