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Difference Between Offensive and Defensive Behavior

Offensive vs Defensive Behavior

People display offensive and defensive behavior in many particular situations, particularly in a conflict. In a certain situation, one person can exhibit offensive behavior while the other party can execute defensive behavior as a response. Attacks and threats can be classified as either physical or psychological, and their effects can also be categorized as such.

Both offensive behavior and defensive behavior can involve the use of force and aggression. The difference lies in how that force or aggression is used in a situation. An offensive person will use those two methods to secure a goal and try to eliminate the factors that might deter meeting that goal. On the other hand, a defensive person will use force or aggression in order to ward off an attack making the threat go away and to prevent injury to themselves.

This overlapping is also present in both states. There are instances when the concepts interact with each other – the defense can shift to an offense and the offense changing to a defense. In a situation the offensive person, via their offensive behavior, does the action while the defensive behavior of the other party is reacting to what the other party is exhibiting. It makes the person with the defensive behavior the recipient of the attack or threat. Some people have their own defense mechanisms as preparation and anticipation for the threat or attack coming to them.

The body reacts at both offensive behavior and defensive behavior. There are experiences of an adrenaline rush, labored breathing, blood flowing to the face, perspiration, and the heart is pumping blood rapidly.

Offensive behavior stems from confidence and provocation while defensive behavior draws from mainly fear and self-reservation. A person’s offensive behavior might be done on purpose (depending on the situation) while defensive behavior is purely an instinctive response. Offensive behavior is often characterized by: aggression, territorialism, confidence, a quick loss of temper, indifference to others, and other offensive behavioral traits. An offensive person also tends to be dominant, refuses submission, and always strives to advance themselves at the expense of others. Offensive people sometimes also don’t try to be considerate of others, are self-centered, and tend to ignore or attack other people with or without provocation.

Defensive behavior is the reactionary behavior to offensive attacks or threats. While offensive behavior can be seen in actions, defensive behavior and defensive mechanisms can be observed or are more subtle depending on the temperament of the person doing the behavior. Defensive behavior and mechanisms often vary from person to person. People’s reactions can be complacent to the situation by shifting into an offensive action or completely different and unexpected.

Offensive behavior is often in an active position like a predator attacking or pursuing prey while a defensive behavior stance is in a passive posture. The offensive behavior of a person is the source of a negative cycle which involves stress, tension, and agitation between both parties. The defensive behavior can break this negative cycle if composure and level-headedness is maintained.


1.Offensive behavior is characterized as attacking and an active attitude while defensive behavior, the recipient of all action and intention, is a combination of alertness and a passive position.
2.Both behaviors can overlap each other – defensive behavior can transport a person in exhibiting offensive actions while offensive behavior can stem from defensive reasons.
3.Offensive behavior is often the origin of conflict while defensive behavior is a reaction to the conflict and threat.
4.Offensive behavior starts the negative cycle while the defensive behavior can diffuse it.
5.Offensive behavior leans towards obvious exhibition and expression in public while a defensive behavior and mechanism often are subtle and internal, and the reactions can be varied depending on the person.

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