The purpose of the present study was to extend previous knowledge concerning the link between self-esteem and aggression by examining the mediating role of emotion dysregulation among offenders and community participants. A sample of 153 incarcerated violent offenders and a community sample of 197 individuals completed self-report measures of self-esteem level, emotion dysregulation, and trait aggression. Offenders reported lower levels of self-esteem than community participants, as well as greater levels of emotional nonacceptance and hostility. Bootstrapping analyses were performed to test whether emotion dysregulation mediated the association between self-esteem level and aggression. In the offender sample, mediation models were significant for three of the four aspects of trait aggression that were considered. Emotion dysregulation fully mediated the links that low self-esteem had with physical aggression, anger, and hostility. The same pattern (with the addition of full mediation for verbal aggression) was confirmed in the community sample. Our findings suggest that emotion dysregulation may play an important role in the connection between low self-esteem and aggression. Alternative models of the associations among these variables were tested and discussed. As a whole, the present results are consistent with those of other studies and suggest that it may be beneficial to include emotion regulation modules as part of prevention and treatment programs for violent offenders.
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