Difference Between Offensive and Defensive Behavior

It is natural for people to exhibit offensive and defensive behaviors, especially in a situation of conflict. Both of these are a form of psychological response, and they vary in different cases. However, it is important to know what characterizes these behaviors in order to handle and respond to them correctly.

Offensive vs Defensive Behavior

The main difference between offensive and defensive behavior is that offensive behavior is a first-mover action that involves the use of force to attack and reach a certain goal whereas defensive behavior is a responsive action that also uses force, but it is exhibited only to protect oneself from attacks and it does not necessarily have a predetermined goal.

Offensive vs Defensive Behavior

Offensive behavior can be looked at as the dominant conduct between the two. In such a situation, the person exhibiting the behavior refuses to be submissive. It involves using certain techniques to attack someone. This kind of action has a certain purpose and is normally done consciously. It is characterized by confidence, indifference, territoriality, aggression, etc.

Meanwhile, defensive behavior is only a response to the former. It can be looked at as submissive conduct. Such behavior is generally exhibited to protect oneself from attacks. It is done purely out of instinct. Unlike offensive behavior, which is mostly visible, defensive behavior may be visible or subtle.

Comparison Table Between Offensive and Defensive Behavior

Parameters of ComparisonOffensive BehaviorDefensive Behavior
MeaningIt refers to a first-mover action that uses force and aggression to attack.It refers to a responsive action that used force and aggression to protect oneself from an attack.
NatureIt is dominant conduct.It is submissive conduct.
CauseIt is exhibited consciously.It is exhibited purely out of instinct.
GoalIt has a specific goal or purpose.It does not have a specific goal or purpose.
TraitsIt involves confidence, indifference, territoriality, aggression, etc.It involves fear, denial, projection, regression, sublimation, etc.
VisibilityIt is mostly visible.It may be visible or subtle.

What is Offensive Behavior?

Offensive behavior is a form of conduct that uses force and aggression to attack someone. It has a dominant nature and the person exhibiting it refuses to submit to anyone. The person exhibiting an offensive behavior always strikes first, that too with the aim of reaching a specific goal or purpose.

Some character traits of a person with offensive behavior include confidence, indifference, territoriality, aggression, etc. These can mostly be visibly identified in the person. In doing so, the person being attacked can make coherence out of the situation and furthermore act appropriately.

Since offensive behavior is used to reach to a goal, it is done consciously. This means that the person is aware of his actions. In such cases, it is often seen that the person acts inconsiderate, provocative, and self-centered. The person also generally has a very short temper. Exhibiting such behavior creates a cycle of stress, agitation, and tension.

An example of offensive behavior is when a predator kills prey for food in the wild. This involves the predator being aggressive, indifferent, and dominant. It takes the first action. Another example is when a fighter attacks his or her opponent first in a UFC match.

What is Defensive Behavior?

Defensive behavior is only a response to offensive behavior. It involves the use of force and aggression to protect oneself from attacks. It has a submissive nature and no specific goal. While offensive behavior is mostly visible, defensive behavior may be visible or subtle.

Some character traits of a person exhibiting defensive behavior include fear, denial, projection, regression, sublimation, etc. When a person is attacked, he may or may not be able to make sense of the situation at that time. For this reason, it is natural for defensive behavior to turn into offensive behavior. In doing so, the person uses escapism and diversion for protection.

Unlike offensive behavior, defensive behavior is purely instinctual. A person may or not be conscious of his behavior at that time. This may happen when the offensive person attacks too quickly or aggressively. However, when exhibited consciously, defensive behaviors have the potential of breaking negative cycles of offensive behaviors.

An example of defensive behavior is when a cat hisses, spits, arches its back, and raises its hair on coming across some kind of threat. Another example is when a fighter blocks the punches and kicks of the opponent while partaking in a UFC match.

Main Differences Between Offensive and Defensive Behavior

  1. Offensive behavior refers to a first-mover action that uses force and aggression to attack whereas defensive behavior refers to a responsive action that used force and aggression to protect oneself from an attack.
  2. Offensive behavior is dominant conduct whereas defensive behavior is submissive conduct.
  3. Offensive behavior is exhibited consciously whereas defensive behavior is exhibited purely out of instinct.
  4. Offensive behavior has a specific goal or purpose whereas defensive behavior does not have a specific goal or purpose.
  5. Offensive behavior involves confidence, indifference, territoriality, aggression, etc. whereas defensive behavior involves fear, denial, projection, regression, sublimation, etc.
  6. Offensive behavior is mostly visible whereas defensive behavior may be visible or subtle.

Conclusion

Offensive and defensive behaviors are difficult to identify and can have adverse effects if responded to inappropriately. Therefore, it is important to know how each of them is characterized. Firstly, offensive behavior is dominant, aggressive, provocative, and confident. On the other hand, defensive behavior is submissive and involves traits such as fear, denial, projection, regression, sublimation, etc.

Another major difference between the two is that offensive behavior is always exhibited by the person who strikes first. Moreover, it is done with a specific goal or purpose. Defensive behavior is exhibited to protect oneself from offensive behavior. It is not shown by the first-mover. There is no specific goal or purpose in such a case.

A notable aspect of this concept is that offensive behaviors can lead to the formation of negative cycles that cause nothing but stress, agitation, and tension to the person. However, defensive behaviors have the potential to break these cycles of exhibited appropriately.

References

  1. https://www.jsad.com/doi/abs/10.15288/jsas.1993.s11.9
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1988-32404-001
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