The APA Dictionary of Psychology, Second Edition (2015) defines violence as “the expression of hostility or rage with the intent to injure, damage people or property through physical force.” Again in the Dictionary of Psychology, “forensic psychology has been defined as the application of psychological principles and techniques to situations involving the civil and criminal legal systems.” These functions include assessment services. The Forensic Violence Index (FVI) is to be used to assess offenders accused or convicted of violence-related offenses.

Most offenders, particularly violent offenders, are aware of the serious consequences associated with violence, consequently they often attempt to minimize or deny their violent acts. This is why the FVI incorporates a Truthfulness Scale.

Anger can evolve from perceived threats (Lazarus, 1991). Anger can also evolve from hostility (Spielberger, et al., 1985) or cynicism (Martin, et al., 2000). Intense anger is often called aggression, which can evolve into violence. The FVI assesses violence, but in the process screens anger and aggression (emotional approximations of violence). In other words, the FVI screens the anger-aggression-violence continuum and the dominant emotion (anger-aggression-violence) is the one that is printed in the FVI report. The relationships between anger-aggression and violence are increasingly recognized in psychological research. And virtually all correctional and probation departments have some form of an anger-management program.

Violence is the product of anger. When we cannot modulate anger, it can evolve into aggression, which can escalate and evolve into violence. We can say that violence is a product of compromised anger management skills. In other words, violent crimes are committed by people who lack the skills to modulate their anger, express it constructively and move beyond it.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) does little to address anger, aggression or violence. The one relevant DSM-5 anger-related diagnosis is “intermittent explosive disorder” which is a disorder of anger management. Nevertheless, the DSM-5 does not directly address anger, aggression or violence.

Violent crime is often associated with alcohol and drug abuse. In the majority of cases violent perpetrators experience a loss of control of their anger or aggression. Anger problems are a product of long term anger mismanagement. As a general rule, the angrier (aggressive or violent) a person feels, the less clear their thinking and therefore the less able they to effectively handle their acting out. In brief, their emotions (anger, aggression or violence) interfere with their judgment.

In corrections, violence has been defined as “behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage or seriously harm someone or something.” Combining violence-aggression and anger characteristics and risk factors increases the scope of violence assessments. With increased recognition of violence in public health, G.H. Brundtland (2002) discusses the importance of violence risk assessments. Violence risk assessments now have a role in criminal justice system evaluations, probation department assessments and clinical settings.

The Forensic Violence Index (FVI) consists of 154 true-false and multiple choice questions and takes 25 minutes to complete. All FVI tests are computer scored. From test data (answers) input, FVI tests are scored with their 3 page printed reports available within 2½ minutes. FVI research is available at www.BDS-Research.com . FVI assessments are appropriate for men and women

Forensic Violence Index (FVI) Scales (Domains)

1. Truthfulness Scale 5. Alcohol Scale
2. Violence Scale* 6. Drug Scale
3. Anger Scale* 7. Antisocial Scale
4. Aggression Scale* 8.Impulsiveness Scale
9. Stress Management Scale

*The FVI scores the anger-aggression-violence continuum and the dominant emotion is the one that is printed in the FVI report. This applies to every FVI that is scored.

In most cases, there are precursors to violence. Recognizing these clues or triggers is an important first step in violence prevention. When the Violence Scale is elevated (problem or severe problem) it should not be minimized or ignored.

There are many techniques (or ways) that can be taught to positively manage anger, aggression and violence. For example, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, communication/ listening skills, cognitive awareness, mindfulness, etc. Mindfulness training is a technique for developing better management of negative emotions. It incorporates mindfulness skills, teaches distress tolerance along with emotional relaxation and interpersonal effectiveness.

Although there are many and complex causes of violence, the WAVE report (2005) discusses ten components that they believe are the basis for violent acts. These are: the propensity to be violent and triggers to violent acts. The “propensity to be violent” is a personal factor like a personality trait or variable. Some people are more violence prone than others. In contrast, violence triggers, e.g., broken homes, child abuse, parental violence, violent peer group, neglect, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, deprivation, gang membership, poverty, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, firearms/weapons accessibility, street crime, insults, family violence, lies, racial slurs, slander, etc. vary from person-to-person. With few exceptions, triggers lead to violence when a person’s propensity to be violent exists. This theory of violence was presented because it is compatible with the Forensic Violence Index (FVI) assessment.

In summary, the FVI identifies violence risk, establishes its risk level, identifies its violence triggers and recommends matching of equivalent interventions or treatment.

For background, the World Health Organization (WHO, 1996) defined violence as “the intended use of physical force or power, threatened or actual against oneself, another person, or a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, psychological harm, mal-development, deprivation or death.”


Brundtland GH. Violence prevention: a public health approach. JAMA 2002;288:1580.

Hosking, G.D.C. and Walsh, I.R. (2005).WAVE Report 2005: Violence and what to do about it WAVE Trust

Lazarus, R. S. 1991c. Emotion and Adaptation. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. Parrott, D.J., Giancola, P.R. (2007). Addressing “The criterion problem” in the assessment of aggressive behavior: Development of a new taxonomic system. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 12, 280–99.

Martin, R., Watson, D, & Wan, C. K. (2000). A three-factor model of trait anger: Dimensions of affect, behavior, and cognition. Journal of Personality, 68, 869-897.

Spielberger, C.D., Johnson, E.G., Russell, S.F., Crane, R.S., Jacobs, G.A., & Worden, T.J. (1985). The experience and expression of anger. In M.A. Chesney, & R.H. Rosenman (Eds.), Anger and hostility in cardiovascular and behavioral disorders (pp. 5-29). New York: Hemisphere/McGraw-Hill