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Passive-aggressive behavior is "a type of behaviour ... characterized by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation."[1]

The 精神疾病診斷與統計手冊 (DSM) revision IV describes passive-aggressive personality disorder as a "pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance英语passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in social and occupational situations."



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

According to Living with the Passive-Aggressive Man, a self-help book英语self-help book, a passive man does little to get what he wants as it is too much effort to do so, and ranges from the inept "loser" type to the conformist who does anything to be liked, avoids making waves and rarely says what he feels.[6]


In conflict theory英语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.[7]


Passive-aggressive behavior from workers and managers is damaging to team unity and productivity. Warner in the ad for his online ebook 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." If this behavior is ignored it could result in decreased office efficiency and frustration among workers.[8] 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."[9]


醫學專科 精神病学
ICD-10 F60.8
ICD-9-CM 301.84

The 世界卫生组织's 国际疾病伤害及死因分类标准第十版 lists passive-aggressive personality disorder under (F60.8 ) Other specific personality disorders.

精神疾病诊断与统计手册IV 附錄 B[编辑]

Passive-aggressive 人格障碍 was listed as an Axis II英语Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders#Multi-axial system personality disorder in the DSM-III-R英语DSM-III-R, but was moved in the DSM-IV to Appendix B ("Criteria Sets and Axes Provided for Further Study") because of controversy and the need for further research on how to also categorize the behaviors in a future edition. According to DSM-IV, passive-aggressive personality disorder is "often overtly ambivalent, wavering indecisively from one course of action to its opposite. They may follow an erratic path that causes endless wrangles with others and disappointment for themselves." Characteristic of these persons is an "intense conflict between dependence on others and the desire for self-assertion." Although exhibiting superficial bravado, their self-confidence is often very poor, and others react to them with hostility and negativity. This diagnosis is not made if the behavior is exhibited during a major depressive episode英语major depressive episode or can be attributed to dysthymic disorder英语dysthymic disorder.[2]


The psychologist Theodore Millon英语Theodore Millon has proposed four subtypes of 'negativist' ('passive-aggressive').[10] Any individual negativist may exhibit none or one of the following:

Subtype Description Personality traits
Vacillating negativist Including borderline personality disorder英语borderline personality disorder features Emotions fluctuate in bewildering, perplexing, and enigmatic ways; difficult to fathom or comprehend own capricious and mystifying moods; wavers, in flux, and irresolute both subjectively and intrapsychic英语intrapsychically.
Discontented negativist Including depressive personality disorder英语depressive personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder英语avoidant personality disorder features Grumbling, petty, testy, cranky, embittered, complaining, fretful, vexed, and moody; gripes behind pretense; avoids confrontation; uses legitimate but trivial complaints.
Circuitous negativist Including dependent personality disorder英语dependent personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder英语antisocial personality disorder features Opposition displayed in a roundabout, labyrinthine, and ambiguous manner, e.g., procrastination, dawdling, forgetfulness, inefficiency, neglect, stubbornness, indirect and devious in venting resentment and resistant behaviors.
Abrasive negativist Including sadistic personality disorder英语sadistic personality disorder features Contentious, intransigent, fractious, and quarrelsome; irritable, caustic, debasing, corrosive, and acrimonious, contradicts and derogates; few qualms and little conscience or remorse. (no longer a valid diagnosis in DSM)


Passive-aggressive disorder may stem from a specific childhood stimulus[11] (e.g., alcohol/drug addicted parents, bullying, abuse) in an environment where it was not safe to express frustration or anger. Families in which the honest expression of feelings is forbidden tend to teach children to repress and deny their feelings and to use other channels英语sublimation (psychology) to express their frustration. For example, if physical and psychological punishment were to be dealt to children who express anger, they would be inclined to be passive aggressive.

Children who sugarcoat hostility may have difficulties being assertive, never developing better coping strategies英语coping strategies or skills for self-expression. They can become adults who, beneath a "seductive veneer," harbor "vindictive intent," in the words of US congressman/psychologist Timothy F. Murphy英语Timothy F. Murphy, and writer/practicing therapist Loriann Oberlin英语Loriann Oberlin.[12] Alternatively individuals may simply have difficulty being as directly aggressive or assertive as others. Martin Kantor suggests three areas that contribute to passive-aggressive anger in individuals: conflicts about dependency, control, and competition, and that a person may be termed passive-aggressive if they behave so to few people on most occasions.[13]

Timothy F. Murphy英语Murphy and Oberlin英语Loriann Oberlin also see passive aggression as part of a larger umbrella of hidden anger stemming from ten traits of the angry child or adult. These traits include making one's own misery, the inability to analyze problems, blaming others, turning bad feelings into angry ones, attacking people, lacking empathy, using anger to gain power, confusing anger with self-esteem, and indulging in negative self-talk. Lastly, the authors point out that those who hide their anger can be nice when they wish to be.[14]


Psychiatrist Kantor suggests a treatment approach using psychodynamic英语psychodynamic therapy, supportive英语supportive psychotherapy, 认知行为疗法, behavioral英语behavioral therapy and interpersonal英语interpersonal therapy therapeutic methods. These methods apply to both the passive-aggressive person and their target victim.[15]


Passive-aggressive behavior was first defined clinically by Colonel William Menninger英语William Menninger during 第二次世界大战 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".[16]

According to some 精神分析学 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.

In the first version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders英语Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders#DSM-I .281952.29, DSM-I, in 1952, the passive-aggressive was defined in a narrow way, grouped together with the passive-dependent英语dependent personality disorder.

The DSM-III-R stated in 1987 that passive-aggressive disorder is typified by, among other things, "fail[ing] to do the laundry or to stock the kitchen with food because of procrastination and dawdling."[16]



  1. ^ passive-aggressive | Definition of passive-aggressive in English by Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford Dictionaries | English. [2017-09-28]. 
  2. ^ 2.0 2.1 American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatic Association. 2000: 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. ^ Wetzler 1992, pp. 35–37.
  7. ^ Simon, George, In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, Parkhurst, 2010 
  8. ^ Harms, Kimberly A, Passive Aggressive Behaviour in the Dental Office 3, May–June 2012 .
  9. ^ De Angelis, Paula, Blindsided: Recognizing and Dealing with Passive-Aggressive Leadership in the Workplace, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform: 3, 2009, ISBN 1442159200 .
  10. ^ Millon, Theodore, Personality Disorders in Modern Life, 2004 .
  11. ^ Johnson, JG; Cohen, P; Brown, J; Smailes, EM; Bernstein, DP, Childhood maltreatment increases risk for personality disorders during early adulthood, Arch. Gen. Psychiatry, July 1999, 56 (7): 600–6, PMID 10401504, doi:10.1001/archpsyc.56.7.600 
  12. ^ Tim, Murphy; Hoff Oberlin, Loriann, Overcoming passive aggression: how to stop hidden anger from spoiling your relationships, career and happiness, New York: Marlowe & Company: 48, 2005 [April 27, 2010], ISBN 1-56924-361-1 
  13. ^ Kantor 2002, pp. xvi–xvii, 5.
  14. ^ Tim, Murphy; Hoff Oberlin, Loriann (2005).
  15. ^ Kantor 2002, p. 115.
  16. ^ 16.0 16.1 Lane, C, The Surprising History of Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder (PDF), Theory & Psychology, 1 February 2009, 19 (1): 55–70, doi:10.1177/0959354308101419