This article analyses and compares the structure of hostile attitudes and aggressive behaviour of two national groups, English and Italian, taking into account the national stereotypes involved. While the two groups do not differ greatly in their overall level and general pattern of scoring on a questionnaire, there are nevertheless divergencies that reflect the differing norms of the two societies. In particular, the hostile/aggressive Italian has to contend with a display motive that seems to permeate his culture pattern and contributes to the stereotype of the 'Latin temperament'. To this extent, the 'kernel of truth' hypothesis is supported. Correspondingly, the stereotype of the perfidious, hypocritical Englishman is lent credence, in that revenge cloaked in moral guise and world-weary cynicism and contempt are more apparent attributes of the hostile/aggressive Englishman as revealed by the questionnaire. Attitudes towards authority draw on both the display and cynicism aspects. While the Italian is impressed by the trappings of power, the Englishman is more concerned with its exercise.
It is concluded that, although culture patterns may be fruitfully compared in terms of their ways of handling and expressing hostility/aggression, it is essentially meaningless to describe one culture pattern as more or less hostile/aggressive than another in any absolute terms, since no external criterion exists that is not in some sense arbitrary.