Aggression Psychology Essay Questions

Aggression Revision Notes


by Bruce Johnson published 2017


Exam Advice

You MUST revise everything - because the exam board could choose any question, however, it does make sense to spend more time on those topics which have not appeared for a while.

Exam Tip:

With these particular questions there is a sizeable risk that people don’t understand the difference between the questions, and then write about the wrong thing. Make sure you know which is which, for example do you understand the difference between “Genetic explanations” and “Neural and hormonal explanations”, and do you have a model essay for each?


Section 1: Neural and Hormonal causes of aggression.

AO1

• The Limbic System (including the Hypothalamus and Amygdala) tends to act as an alarm system triggering aggressive response to certain types of threats.

• Giving testosterone to new-born female mice made them act like males with increased aggression, when given testosterone as adults. However, control females only given testosterone as adults did not react in this way (Edwards ,1968).

This suggests that testosterone masculinises androgen-sensitive neural circuits underlying aggression in the brain.

AO3

Research in Greece found that removing the amygdala reduced aggressive incidents by between 33% and 100%, although the sample was small – 13 patients.

The Phineas Gage study provides evidence that brain damage may have an effect on personality including aggression.

AO1

• The PET-1 Gene is linked to the production of the hormone serotonin, which inhibits (i.e. stops) aggression. Damage to the gene, in mice, raises aggression. [sometimes referred to as “Knockout Mice] (Deneris, 2003).

• Drugs increasing serotonin production lead to reduced levels of aggression, suggesting that low levels of serotonin are linked to increased aggression (Delville et al., 1997).

• Rats selected for reduced aggression levels had higher serotonin and greater levels of serotonin related activity than wild, more aggressive counterparts (Popova et al., 1991).

• Research shows a relationship between low levels of serotonin and violent behaviors, suggesting that a lack of serotonin is linked to aggression (Linnoila & Virkunen, 1992).

• Lidberg et al. (1985) compared serotonin levels of violent criminals with non-violent controls, finding the lowest levels of serotonin among violent criminals.

AO3

Most evidence linking low levels of serotonin and aggression is only correlational and does not indicate causality.

AO1

• Giving the hormone testosterone to new-born female mice made them act like males with increased aggression, when given testosterone as adults.

However, control females only given testosterone as adults did not react in this way, suggesting that testosterone masculinises androgen-sensitive neural circuits underlying aggression in the brain (Edwards ,1968).

• Testosterone affects certain types of aggression in animals, such as intermale aggression as a defence response to intruders, while predatory aggression is not affected (Bermond et al., 1982).

• Van Goozen (1997) conducted a natural experiment on trans-gender sex-change patients. This is one of the few cases where research was actually carried out on humans.

Findings revealed testosterone levels governed aggression. Males receiving testosterone suppressants became less aggressive. Females receiving testosterone became more aggressive.

• Aggressive Boys, violent criminals, military offenders all had high levels of testosterone (Dabbs, 1996).

AO3

Individuals with elevated testosterone levels exhibit signs of aggression, but rarely commit aggressive acts, suggesting that social and cognitive factors play a mediating role (Higley et al., 1996).

Dabbs and Morris (1990) 'Blocked pathways to success' study: When a rich boy with high testosterone came home from the army he was less likely to get into trouble, but when a poor boy with high testosterone came home he was more likely to get into trouble.

This suggests testosterone doesn’t simply cause aggression, but it makes aggression more likely as a response to frustration.

AO1

• The fearlessness Theory: Stress, caused by the hormone cortisol may inhibit aggression through fear. So individuals with lower levels of cortisol are less inhibited, more inclined to take risks and act impulsively (Raine, 2002).

• Low cortisol leads to Sensation seeking behavior, especially in males (Zuckerman, 2010).

• Low levels of Cortisol in delinquent teenagers with conduct disorder (Fairchild, 2008)

General Criticisms of Neural and Hormonal Research

AO3

Much of the evidence is only correlational and may not prove causation. It isn’t clear whether hormones promote aggression, or aggressive behavior stimulates homrone production.

Comparative – much of the work on hormones and neurotransmitters has been done on animals and may not apply to humans so easily.

Reductionist: Sees only biological factors, overlooking social issues such as de-individuation Heredity / Environment: Biological theories tend to overlook the effects of socialisation and other environmental issues, such as environmental stressors.

Deterministic: Assumes humans have no choice and will follow primitive behavior patterns.


Section 2: Genetical Origins of Aggression.

Genes alone do not control aggression, rather they affect the production of hormones and neurotransmitters which in turn affects aggression. So you will also draw upon your knowledge of biological factors, but you MUST show a link to genetics for each one.

Basic Evidence of Genetic Influences on Aggression

AO1

• Animal studies show instinctive patterns of behavior including aggressive behavior. If a whole species has a similar level of aggression then it must have a genetic basis.

• Twin studies have shown that twins have similar levels of aggression.

Using old Danish police records Christiansen (1977) demonstrated that levels of criminality showed a stronger correlation between identical twins – with the same genes – than between dizygotic twins.

AO3

However criminality is not always the same as aggression.

Genetical Research on Serotonin

AO1

• PET-1 Gene is linked to serotonin production which inhibits aggression. Damage to the gene in so called “knockout mice” raises aggression. Mutations in humans can have the same effect (Deneris, 2003).

• Acts of impulsive aggression, such as domestic violence, have a genetic link to the serotonergic system, suggesting that many genes may be involved in aggression (New et al., 2003).

Genetical Research on MAOa - The Warrior Gene

AO1

• MAOa is an enzyme which helps with the re-uptake of neurotransmitters including serotonin. Humans with the MAOa L gene (L is for Low) have a lack of MAOa enzyme. Without this enzyme to recycle it the level of serotonin may become depleted.

• When researchers found the MAOa-L gene present in 56% of New Zealand Maori men it was nicknamed “The Warrior Gene”. Poa {2006] criticised this term as unethical - i.e. racist.

It was later found that the gene is present in 58% of African American men and 36% of European men, so it is actually a mainstream genetic variation with adaptive advantages associated with risk taking.

• A Dutch family has long history of aggression, and a genetic inability to process serotonin due to lack of MAOA (Brunner, 1993)

• Caspi et al (2002): Interaction of MAOA problem AND abusive childhood led to aggression. If boys with the MAOa – L gene suffered abuse in childhood , they were 3 times more likely to be aggressive when they reached adulthood.

Genetical Research on Testosterone

AO1

• Bogaert et al. (2008) established that variations in male testosterone levels are inherited – and therefore genetic.

• Giving testosterone to newborn female mice made them act like males with increased aggression, when later given testosterone as adults. Females only given testosterone as adults did not react in this way, suggesting that testosterone masculinises aggression systems in the brain at birth, it’s not just an environmental issue (Edwards, 1968).

• Rissman et al. (2006) investigated Sry, a gene leading to the development of testes and high androgen levels in males. Male and female mice with and without the gene were tested. The Sry gene was associated with high levels of aggression, suggesting that genes and hormones interact and that sex chromosome genes also have a role.

AO1

• Rissman et al. (2006) investigated Sry, a gene leading to the development of testes and high androgen levels in males. Male and female mice with and without the gene were tested. The Sry gene was associated with high levels of aggression, suggesting that genes and hormones interact and that sex chromosome genes also have a role.

• The Super-Male hypothesis (Sandberg, 1961) suggested the XYY Gene led to aggression. Later research by Alice Theilgard [1984] did show that 16 men out of 30,000 sampled had the xyy gene and that these were slightly more aggressive and slightly less intelligent but this is such a rare mutation that it does not explain aggression in the general population.

General Criticisms of Genetic Research

AO3

Comparative – much of the work on genes has been done on animals and may not apply to humans so easily. However, the experiments which have been done on mice relate to chemicals and genes which are very similar.

Reductionist: Danger of seeing only biological and overlooking social psychology issues such as de-individuation. Tends to overlook the effects of socialisation and other environmental issues, such as environmental stressors. Genetic factors do not work in isolation but interact with environmental factors as well.

Deterministic: Assumes that humans have no choice and will follow quite primitive behavior patterns.


Section 3: Ethological Explanations of Aggression.

AO1

Ethology is where we learn about human psychology from studying other animals.

• Conrad Lorenz believed that aggression was an innate adaptive response – something which had evolved in humans and animals to help them survive.

    • To see off predators: For example a group of hissing geese can drive off a fox, even though the fox would probably win a straight fight. If the geese survive, then the gene which led to that aggressive response will be passed on.

    • To get resources: Lorenz also suggested that much aggression was aimed at members of the same species, when competing for territory or sexual partners, but some animals are so fierce they could easily damage each other when fighting for dominance; Eg. Wolves, Stags, Lions.

This would be maladaptive – bad for the species. Therefore they fight until one backs down, not to the death, just to establish who is stronger and who is weaker.

This creates a society in which each individual knows their place. They have evolved ways of warning others to back off: Dogs bark and snarl, cats hiss, apes beat their chest or wave sticks about.

Niko Tinbergen called these Fixed Action Patterns [FAP]

Fixed Action Patterns [FAP]

AO1

Lea [1984] analysed FAPs and identified 5 features:

  1. Stereotyped – behavior follows a certain pattern each time.
  2. Universal all the animals in that species use the same type of threat.
  3. Innate: all the animals in that species seem to be born with it and don’t have to learn it.
  4. Ballistic: Once it starts it cannot simply be stopped.
  5. Specific triggers seem to set it off.

AO3

Breland and Breland found that animals tend to revert to instinctive behavior regardless of training. This would support the FAP theory.

It could be argued that some behaviors are learned in the environment – but maybe not all. Dogs can been trained by hunters, army and police to act in particular ways.

Eibesfeldt (1972) tried to identify human FAPS such as smiling to show non-aggression, however he found that our culture changes so quickly that cultural differences in signs can change more quickly than evolutionary patterns. Rude words and hand signs can change, so not evolutionary. Humans are certainly capable of developing new ways of expressing aggression – such as cyber bullying!

Innate Releasing Mechanisms [IRM]

AO1

• Creatures have evolved an instinctive response to certain signs. [Like a red rag to a bull!]

Eg. Male sticklebacks will respond aggressively to the red underbelly of a rival male – but not to a female who does not have the red underbelly.

The Hydraulic Model of instinctive behavior [Lorenz 1950]

It may be easier to understand and remember the hydraulic model if you compare it to a toilet ! The water level gradually fills up till you flush it - then it has to be filled up again.

AO1

• Lorenz said that all creatures build up a reservoir of Action Specific Energy – you could call it “pent up aggression”. When the Innate releasing mechanisms [IRM] trigger the Fixed Action Pattern [FAP] all the aggression is fired off.

Once it is out of the system the animal is less aggressive again till the level of Action Specific Energy has built up again.

AO3

This explanation was probably an example of Lorenz trying to adapt Freudian ideas to animals! Freud wrote about the build-up of sexual energy [Libido] and Lorenz applied a similar idea here.

This theory fails to explain premeditated aggression and bearing grudges.

Holst [1954] found that instead of getting it out of the system , aggressive action could feed back to make the person more angry and increasingly more aggressive.

Arms et al. [1979] found that watching violent sport did not flush aggression out of the system but tended to increase it. Bushman does not agree with idea of Catharsis – says that aggression may lead to more aggression.


Section 4: Evolutionary Explanations of Human Aggression.

The central idea of this topic is that for aggression to be an adaptive feature it has to serve a purpose.

AO1

• David Buss has identified 7 adaptations of aggression in humans:

• Self Defence

• Reputation to ward off future aggression

• To achieve status – more allies less enemies

• Get and keep better share of resources. Pinker (1997) states aggression evolved in men to compete for women. This may have been the MAIN reason for aggression as there was no other property worth fighting over as we evolved.

• Deny own resources to children of rivals

• To prevent other males sharing the prime females

• Prevent partner being unfaithful. For example, sexual jealousy may have evolved to ensure that men pass on their own genes rather than allowing other males access to their mate.

This is aggression between different groups, such as warfare and gangs.

AO1

Buss states human males have evolved cognitive bias towards organised aggression: E.g.

    • Cognitive bias to expect attack

    • Cultivating tough reputation

    • Use of vengeance as a deterrent

    • Strategies for planning and timing an attack

    • Deception and the ability to detect deception

Cosmides and Tooby, the Military Contract: Men will only fight if those who share the rewards also share the danger. Other animals are not bright enough to work this out.

This is aggresion within a single group, mainly linked to male rivalry and sexual jealousy.

AO1

• Daly and Wilson: Male – Male aggression among young men is common in all human cultures – suggesting it is evolutionary.

• Pinker (1997) suggests aggression evolved in men to compete for women. This may have been the MAIN reason for aggression as there was no other property worth fighting over as we evolved. Through most of evolution there was no money, no real property, so women were the only target of aggression.

• Potts and Hayden (2008): War and aggression aimed to control women’s mating habits since development of farming made inheritance of land important. Jealousy has evolved as a male response to the threat of infidelity. Jealous males are determined to pass on their OWN genes.

• Daley and Wilson (1988): Men may use jealousy and violence to control partners sexual behavior Violence is not intended to kill but may have that result. E.g. Fertile young women 10 times risk of domestic violence.

General Criticisms of Evolutionary Research

AO3

Ethics: Waller says : Violence , Xenophobia and even genocide are adaptive, but this is very deterministic and unethical.

Ethics and Gender: Critics feel this theory could be used to justify violence against women. Buss himself always points out that we are not controlled by our genes, we have inherited the ability to learn and to choose.

Reductionist: Is this an over-simplification? Are there other issues which promote aggression such as culture or Individual differences in testosterone and cortisol.

Heredity & Environment: Are environmental factors a greater cause of aggression?

    • Environmental stressors, heat, noise etc

    • Cortisol levels in pregnant mother

    • Childhood abuse and neglect

Deterministic: Evolutionary explanations may seem to suggest that aggression is natural but Figuerdo [1995] suggests jealousy and domestic violence are context specific not inherent, women are less likely to be victims of domestic violence if they have several brothers in town, so aggression can be controlled.


Section 5: Social-Psychological explanations of Aggression.

In the 1960s Social learning theory seen as a challenge to behaviorists Suggested children learn things even without doing them, through observational learning and modelling.

Exam Tip: If the question asks about Social learning Theory it is not enough only to write about the Bobo Doll experiment. That was only one experiment – not the whole theory.

AO1

• behaviorists believe learning occurs through experience followed by either punishment or reward. “Social Learning Theory” challenges that approach.

• The central idea of social learning theory is that people do not need rewards to learn aggression, they may copy the behavior of others, but this is less likely of they see the other people being punished.

Bandura states children learn by imitation, and are more likely to copy depending on:

  • The actual behavior of the role model
  • The status of the person copied
  • The closeness / immediacy of the person
  • How well we understand what is happening

Bobo Doll experiments: Children copied adults

Contributory factors:

  • Similarity: boys will copy boys, family links and groups etc.
  • Presentation: How close, live, immediate the violence was
  • Warmth: If the model was more friendly towards the subject
  • Prestige: If the model had high status
  • Appropriateness: If the behavior was “appropriate.

Vicarious reinforcement: (i) Adult was rewarded children slightly more likely to copy; (ii) adult was punished children were much less likely to copy.

Disinhibition: People are more willing to do things if they see that others are already doing them.

Bandura’s conclusions: Aggression is not inevitable. Children observe aggressive behavior in others, but how they act may depend on what the consequences of aggression were, particularly for those they use as role models.

AO3

Positive Criticisms of Bandura

Huge implications for society -provides a key to understanding causes of good and bad behavior. Based on clear research in lab and followed up by many studies into TV violence, video games etc.

Negative Criticisms of Bandura

Experiment was in a lab – may lack ecological validity.

Children may have known that the Bobo Doll was designed for punching and therefore more open to suggestion, also they may have been aware of the experiment from other children in the group.

These are both examples of demand characteristics.

Media Implications

Viewing violence may cause children to develop cognitive scripts which involve violence in dealing with situations.

A danger that media violence makes children more desensitised, more hardened to acts of violence in real life.

Social Theory: De-Individuation

AO1

• The central idea of this theory is that humans have a natural tendency to be aggressive if they think they can get away with it. Being disguised, or part of a crowd, will therefore lead to increased aggression.

• Festinger (1952) invented the term “Deindividuation”, defined by Fraser and Burchell (2001) “A process whereby normal constraints on behavior are weakened as persons lose their sense of individuality.”

Contagion Theory: Starting point for deindividuation

  • Le Bon 1896: People in groups become infected with a kind of group hysteria and act in ways they would not do on their own.
  • Blumer 1939: Circular reaction where the people add to the crowd and the crowd fires up the people.

• Zimbardo (1969): An electric shock experiment, similar to the classic Milgram study, found that disguised students were more likely to shock others – supports deindividuation.

• Deiner Et Al (1976) Studied 1300 American children “trick or treating” on Halloween. Children in disguised or in a large group behaved worse. Supports deindividuation theory.

• Mullen (1986) studied lynch mobs. The greater the number of people tended to correlate with the level of violence.

AO3

Gergen 1973: Deindividuated persons in dark areas became more affectionate. Therefore de-individuation need not always lead to aggression

Postmes & Spears (1988): Deindividuated people are not necessarily aggressive - Crowds may be happy and good natured – as at pop festivals

Tajfel (1981): Reduced private self awareness. Taking on the values of groups we belong to – which may be peaceful or aggressive

Johnson and Downing: some people in Nurses uniforms and some in Ku Klux Klan outfits.

De-individuation led to better, more caring behavior by the nurses which suggests de-individuated people get into the role more and the role may not be aggressive.

Zimbardo: Stanford Prison experiment saw students adopting to perceived roles.

Emergent Norm Theory & convergence theory

These ideas can be used as criticisms of de-individuation. They suggest that groups or sub-cultures come together because they have some sort of similarity, (convergence) then establish their own norms (emergent norms). Often one person, or a few people will behave in a certain way which others like - so they copy. This argues against de-individuation and the faceless crowd, it does not imply aggression will result. A very good example would be the hippy culture of the 1960’s

The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis

AO1

• Aggression is a result of frustration. Frustration is any event or stimulus that prevents an individual from attaining a goal and it’s accompanying reinforcement quality (Dollard & Miller, 1939).

• Displaced Aggression [Dollard 1939] You cant kick the boss, so you kick the cat. Like Lornez, Dollard thought that getting aggressive cleared the mind of frustrations [a Catharsis] and life could then go on as normal.

• Berkowitz (1989 ) updated version known as “Negative – affect theory”. Frustration is just one factor, others may include feeling uncomfortable [eg. Heat, Reifmann [1991]] - but could also be noise or loud music Certain cues may increase the tendency towards aggression such as seeing a weapon on the table – Berkowitz used a baseball bat in experiments. Also if the problem is unexpected the individual is less likely to control their aggression.

• So, the level of aggression will depend on:

  • how much you really want to achieve the goal
  • Whether you understand that there is a good reason for the problem
  • How expected / unexpected the frustration was

AO3

Bandura (1973) Frustration may lead to aggression if that has worked for someone in the past and they have internalised that way of dealing with problems.

Harris (1974) Found that people at the front of a cue were less aggressive if someone pushed in, whereas people at the back of a long cue were feeling a greater sense of frustration and therefore mad a bigger fuss.

Wright and Klee (1999): Societies will be more stable and peaceful if they have systems which allow clever or hardworking people to rise to the top. Otherwise a strong but angry working class will develop, filled with people who resent being “kept down”.

Brown (2001) - holidaymakers became more aggressive when frustrated by delays.

Priks (2010) has tried to explain football violence this way. Supporters seem much more likely to misbehave when their team is losing.

Mallick and McCandles found that people were much less aggressive when given a reason for the frustration. Doob and Sears [1939]: people felt angry when a bus went by without stopping. But people were less angry if the bus had a sign saying out of service [Pastore 1952]

The danger is that it justifies deviant behavior: Plenty of people suffer injustice or unfairness and do not turn to violence. Therefore there must be some additional factor, such as a biological dimension, to explain why some people turn to violence or aggression when faced with problems and others don’t.


Section 6: Institutional Theories of Aggression.

The situational approach: prisons make people aggressive – it’s the situation to blame.

The dispositional approach: prisoners are aggressive people who make the prison violent.

The Situational Approach: Sykes’ (1958) Deprivation Model

AO1

• Some institutions have harsh living conditions, such as prisons, army camps, refugee camp This is less of a problem if the deprivation is for a good reason; if you were on a “round the world yacht race” or a mountaineering trip you have positive attitudes to keep you going.

• Some institutions, deprive people of things they want:

  • liberty,
  • autonomy,
  • goods and services,
  • sexual relationships,
  • security

• This deprivation causes stress and frustration which leads to an aggressive sub-culture. But this only applies to places with harsh conditions: E.g. in prison, army, refugee camp etc. Less likely to be a problem if the deprivation is for a good reason; Eg. fitness & diet camp.

Effects

  • The general environment becomes dangerous and aggressive.
  • Some people retreat, back down, hide in their cells.
  • Others compete in order to get what they want.
  • Getting a tough reputation is very important in order to get respect and not be a victim.

AO3

Support for Situational Model

McCorkle (1995) In a study of 317 United States prisons, poor facilities and overcrowding were found to influence levels of violence.

Franklin (2006): Age and overcrowding led to aggression, with younger inmates (18-30) being most aggressive in conditions of overcrowding. Her Majesty’s Prison Woodhill: Major improvements at this prison included less noise, better ventilation, attractive views and especially less crowding. This led to a massive improvement in behavior in the 1990s.

Criticism

Harer and Steffensmeir (1996) found that age, race and criminal background were the only variables which affected levels of aggression. This strongly argues for the importational model, not the deprivation model.

The Situational Approach: Dysfunctional Institutionsl

AO1

Another situational argument is that the prisons themselves are dysfunctional. Milgram believed that people are loyal to the hierarchy of the organisation, but sometime the hierarchy encourages cruel behavior.

Much of Milgram’s thinking was influenced by events of the holocaust in Germany. Here the institutional aggression was on the part of the guards, rather than the prisoners.

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Zimbardo found that ordinary students became aggressive and cruel when they took on the role of being a prison guard. At the time of the Zimbardo experiment there were many prisons in the united states where conditions were extremely poor, violent and overcrowded. Some even used the prisoners as slave labour on prison farms. Zimbardo’s experiment strongly supports the situational approach.

Historical Context

At the time of the Zimbardo experiment there were many prisons in the united states where conditions were extremely poor, violent and overcrowded. Some even used the prisoners as slave labour on prison farms. Zimbardo’s experiment strongly supports the situational approach.

Features of dysfunctional Power Systems (Zimbardo)

  • Isolated from the outside world
  • Own set of values
  • Cohesive group; guards don’t question orders
  • Under pressure to act quickly
  • Difficult situation to manage
  • Out-group seen as troublemakers

Dispositional Explanation: The Importation Model

AO1

• A prison is a violent place because aggressive people are in there. Their aggressive attitudes become part of its nature. It’s a dispositional approach because everything depends on the attitudes of the prisoners. This may also apply to other groups and institutions; The army / Extreme political groups / Street gangs.

Irwin and Cressy 1962: People who are sent to prison already have well established criminal behavior patterns. Prisoners were often gang members before going to prison and their loyalties and relationships are continued in the prison environment.

They also have certain learned patterns of behavior – “The code of the Streets”. They may also have problems which cause problems with relationships. E.g, Lack of self-control - Delisi (2011); Impulsive, anti-social - Wang & Diamond (2003).

AO3

Support for Irwin and Cressy / importation model

Men who were members of gangs before they went to prison are more likely to be involved in violent offences whilst in prison. Drury and Delisi (2011)

Mears (2013) believed that the code of the street is imported into prison and is the fundamental cause of aggression.

Poole and Regoli 1983: Violence before prison was the best indicator of violence inside prison. This supports the importation model.

Fischer (2001) Segregating gang members inside prison, so that they did not come into conflicts with other gangs, led to a 50% reduction in assaults.

Criticism of Importation Model

Delisi (2004) found that gang members were NOT more violent than other prisoners. However, this is a rather weak piece of research as it does not allow for the fact that those gang members had already been segregated away from other gang members. The importation model does not really explain why some organisations act aggressively when they are made up of good people supposed to act sensibly. Police officers, school teachers, traffic wardens, psychiatric nurses, and salesmen are all members of organisations which have sometimes been accused of acting in an aggressive way and yet these are very law abiding people who joined those organisations willingly and for good reasons.


Exam Tip

In January 2012 there was a short question (4 marks) which just said; Describe one experiment which investigated Institutional Aggression. A short summary of Zimbardo was all that was needed.


Section 7: Media influences on aggression.

Exam Tip: Many criticisms can be made of the methodologies used in studying the link between Media and Aggression. Click here for AO3 suggestions on this unit.

In recent years computer games have replaced film as the target of claims that children are taking on immoral attitudes and copying violence. Especially those involving violence, especially first person “shoot-em-ups” “Grand Theft Auto” is a very good example.

AO1

• Five psychological theories could be mentioned to support the view that repeated exposure to video game violence may lead to real life aggression:

• 1. Learning theory [Skinner]

Everything you have ever learned about Operant Conditioning can be beautifully applied to this argument. The computer game is the world’s most effective “Skinner Box”.

The human is conditioned to think in patterns which have been pre-programmed into the machine. Basic ideas are taught in the basic levels and behavior is constantly shaped to conform to the rules of the game. Every act, every single click on the mouse, is instantly rewarded, by the computer’s response. Mistakes are instantly punished.

• 2. Learning theory [Bandura]

Attention  retention  production  motivation

Individuals model the aggressive acts in the game. Some characters, and some types of behavior, are more likely to be copied because they are seen as attractive and appropriate etc. There is no sense of real punishment for making mistakes – just game over and start again. This creates disinhibition, individuals unconsciously feel that if they commit aggression they will not be punished.

• 3. Social Cognitive Observational Learning Theory [an updated version of Bandura]

Psychologists have identified certain mechanisms which explain why we learn and copy behavior:

  • Schemas: Models which help us understand the world [Grebner 1994]
  • Normative beliefs: social rules and explanations [Guerra Et. Al.]
  • Cognitive Priming: What connects to what in the brain [Berkowitz, Huesmann]
  • Cognitive Scripts: A pattern of behavior we have ready to deal with certain situations

So the films don’t suddenly turn a person violent, but they might slowly cause the development of anti-social attitudes. This could be more effective in certain types of people [not very intelligent, have no positive role model, feel hard done by in life].

• 4. The General Aggression Model [Anderson and Dill]

This model brings together elements of Social learning and Cognitive Priming Theory and suggests that if we live in a violent environment – such as a war zone, we will adapt to it, our thoughts, feelings and actions will be based around violence and that is how we will survive. But could over-exposure to gaming have the same effects?

Evidence for General Aggression Model: Meta-Analysis Findings: Anderson et al. [2004] 35 studies examined Found that video game violence exposure is related to: increases in aggressive affect, cognition and behavior increases in physiological arousal; decreases in helping behavior.

• 5. Neurological Effects

Ritterfield and Mathiak [2006] -- Participants were subjected to a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan whilst playing a violent video game. It appeared to suggest that emotional areas of the cortex are to some extent “switched off” during the game, perhaps an adaptive mechanism which permits an animal to focus on survival. This is the same as happens when engaged in real acts of violence.

AO1

• Cognitive priming is based on the idea that memory works through association. It therefore contends that events and media images can stimulate related thoughts in the minds of audience members. For example, if we have often seen clowns throwing custard pies at one another, then when we encounter a custard pie in real life we may think about throwing it at someone.

• A schema is a model of what we think normally happens. We assume that our parents will feed us and our friends will be pleased to see us because that is what normally happens.

• A cognitive script is a way of dealing with a situation. We have learned that in a hotel restaurant we sit down and wait to be served, but in a burger bar we line up at the counter.

• Berkowitz thinks watching violent movies could lead to storing schemas and cognitive scripts which involve aggression EG. the students in the Stanford Prison experiment had never been in a real prison but they may have had a schema based on movies they had seen. EG. Students who play “Grand Theft Auto” might develop a cognitive script for what to do when traffic lights turn amber. This may be different from the way their Grandma drives!

• Priming means that a particular event, or an image or even a word may be associated with these thoughts. We call that a trigger. When we encounter the trigger we may respond in the way we have been primed. EG. a football comes bouncing towards me - without thinking I put out my foot to stop it or kick it back, but if it’s a cricket ball I would pick it up and throw it back. I am primed to respond differently to the cricket ball. So Berkowitz argues that we learn anti-social attitudes from the media and these are associated with certain triggers.

AO3

Steve Berkowitz [1984] did an experiment involving an argument in an office. In condition A there was a baseball bat on the side of the desk. In condition B there was a badminton racquet. Berkowitz found the presence of the baseball bat led to more aggressive responses.

Bushman [1998] Participants who had watched a violent film responded more quickly to aggressive words than those who had watched a non-violent film.

Anderson and Dill [2000] Found that playing a violent computer game led to more aggressive thoughts. They claimed that even playing the game just once could be having this effect, although the effect might only be short term.

Zelli [1995] found that cognitive priming could be used to make people suspicious of the intentions of others. This in turn led the people who had been primed to act in a more aggressive manner.

Murray [2007] – used fMRI scans to study children’s brains when watching violent and non-violent TV programmes. Violent films led to increased activity in those areas which deal with emotion, arousal and attention – not surprising – but also in the areas used to store episodic memory. This supports the suggestion that children can store scripts.

Atkin [2003] found that priming was more pronounced when the media was more realistic. However this may not simply mean it “looked better” it might relate to how much the participant believed it was realistic.

AO1

• Media violence triggers biological [physiological] changes, specifically a general arousal, similar to how people respond to a real life threat [flight or fight]. If the level of fear is too much we may feel.

• In the natural world a certain level of natural fear should make people hold back from violent situations. The desensitisation argument suggests that if children watch too much violence on TV they will be less scared and therefore more open to aggressive activity.

• People become less likely to notice violence, or in real life. They have less sympathy for victims of violence. They have less negative attitudes towards violence. [Mullin and Linz 1995]

Measuring desensitisation

• Desensitisation can be monitored by physical indicators of stress, such as heart beat and galvanic skin response. [Linz 1989]

• Carnagey [2007] found that experienced computer gamers show less of a reaction to a film of real life violence.

Effects of Desensitisation

• Bushman and Anderson [2009] found that desensitisation made people less likely to help others in unpleasant situations.

• Dolf Zillman suggested that if we survive real life danger we feel good afterwards [winners] During an action movie we feel excited and stimulated. Later we want that excitement again but we become de-sensitised so we need more scary films to get us excited. This could transfer to seeking violence in real life.

AO1

• Normally we act in certain ways because we have been socialised to know what is right and wrong. We get aroused and excited by a film or a game and this causes us to lose our inhibitions, acting in a more extreme manner till the excitement dies down.

• Long term Disinhibition: Too much violent TV can change our actual moral values so that we see more violent standards of behavior as acceptable. One aspect of this is that we often see acts of violence going unpunished in movies or games and this could lead to disinhibition.

Individual factors [Collins 1989] make disinhibition more or less likely:

  • Violent home background
  • Physical punishment of children
  • Younger viewers
  • Children with low intelligence
  • Children who believe their heroes are realistic
  • Children who believe the media reflects real life

• Disinhibition less likely if Strong family norms against violence or where adults discuss issues from the film with their children.


About the Author

Bruce Johnson is an A-level psychology teacher, and head of sixth form at Caterham High School


→ A-level Home Page|Memory Revision|Social Influence Revision | Attachment Revision|Psychopathology Revision|

Was this article useful? Please help us improve by giving feedback below


→ A-level Home Page|Memory Revision|Social Influence Revision | Attachment Revision|Psychopathology Revision|

After reading this essay you will learn about:- 1. Subject-Matter of Aggression 2. Concept of Aggression, Its Meaning, Definition and Characteristics 3. Development 4. Types 5. Sources 6. Environmental Sources 7. Injustice in Work Place 8. Sex and Age Differences in Aggression 9. Hostility and Aggression 10. Experimental Studies.

Essay Contents:

  1. Essay on the Subject-Matter of Aggression
  2. Essay on the Concept of Aggression, Its Meaning, Definition and Characteristics
  3. Essay on the Development of Aggression
  4. Essay on the Types of Aggression
  5. Essay on the Sources of Aggression
  6. Essay on the Environmental Sources of Aggression
  7. Injustice in Work Place
  8. Essay on Sex and Age Differences in Aggression
  9. Essay on Hostility and Aggression
  10. Essay on Experimental Studies on Aggression


Essay # 1. Subject-Matter of Aggression:

Violence and aggression are the most vital issues which modern society faces. Despite wide spread education, independence, freedom of thought and speech, freedom from deprivation, fulfillment of basic needs and wants, improvement in socio-economic conditions and style of living, improvement in child rearing practices, in many countries around the globe, aggression and violence are on the rise.

The daily news papers, electronic medias like television and radio are full of information’s on violence, crime, murder, rape, child abuse, sexual harassment, molestation etc. The horrible violence particularly against women, children and innocent persons indicates the morbid and dangerous disease human beings are suffering from.

The alarming rise in the aggressive and indiscipline behaviour of modern youths like burning cars, buses, destroying public property, assaulting common men on slightest faults, eve teasing, and passing filthy comments on women raise finger at the way the society is progressing.

We say we are educated, civilized and belong to great nations of the world. We say, we have high traditions, glorious culture and heritage. We feel proud for the contribution and sacrifice of our grand-parents, great grand-parents and forefathers to the nation at the cost of their personal interests and comfort and happiness.

But at the same time we feel ashamed at the dangerous rise in the aggressive and violent behaviour of the present generation throughout the world though the degree of violence and aggression varies from place to place, society to society and country to country.

Mahatma Gandhi and his associates who could get back the independence of India through non-violence are perhaps forgotten in this world full of violence and aggression. The remarkable increase of violence and aggression in the behaviour of the educated and uneducated, rich and poor, employers and unemployed reminds one of a world full of dangerous, chronic and infectious diseases.

Aggression and violence are diseases of human mind and difficult though not impossible to cure. Most people forget the term “Non violence” under these conditions of the present society.

Moreover, the cold war between big and small nations, the violent conflict between various nations on various geographical, social, economic, political and cultural issues, are on the increase in-spite of the functioning of various world peace groups. Boarder issue between various neighbouring countries has increased the aggressive and violent behaviour of people.

Terrorists and Militant groups are daily engaged in mass murder of innocent citizens. Further, with the increase in atomic expulsion and atomic power groups the matter has further deteriorated and no one knows what will happen to human life next moment.

The law and order situation has so much worsened to-day in many countries of the world including India that nobody who goes out, does not know if he will return home safe and secured.

The grave fear of succumbing to one’s aggressive impulses, violent urges and starting atomic war is also on the rise. In India particularly in Jammu and Kashmir during last few decades there is no limit to the killing of innocent persons by militants and terrorists. The terrorist activity has also increased unimaginably throughout the world.

Superior powers of the world even with their most advanced military system, improved arms and ammunitions and richness have not been able to fight with terrorists successfully.

Let us look back to the terrorist act on World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001 which not only destroyed world trade center located at New York, but also killed several hundreds of innocent civilians of different countries who were present at that time there.

The world and its peace loving people will never forgive those aggressive and violent personalities who are creating indiscipline and total havoc in our social system, who are engaged in most heinous and unforgivable crimes.

Starting from violent mob behaviour, plane hijacking to child murder all violent activities should be condemned by the entire world irrespective of community, caste, creed, nationality, sex and religion.

Sociologists, psychologists and social psychologists and criminologists under these circumstances have tried and are trying to find out the root of aggression, hostility and violence and why these negative behaviours are on the rise day by day.

They are also trying to find out solutions to these massive problems which have dangerous implications for the human society. Not that aggression was a novel issue. It was there since the creation of human beings.

Active research on aggression, and hostility started during 1930s and since these negative emotions affect the peace and happiness of society, psychologists and sociologists have shown tremendous interest on the study of aggression, its causes, reactions and consequences. They have tried in an objective manner to find out ways and means to prevent and reduce it to save the mankind from war and violence.


Essay # 2. Concept of Aggression, Its Meaning, Definition and Characteristics:

Sigmund Freud and many other psychologists have considered aggression as a global instinctive, steam boiler like force. This is popularly known as Thantom or the death (destruction) instinct which according to Freud is basically inevitable for self preservation and reproduction.

The higher animals eat the lower animals for their self preservation. Aggression is a negative emotion and though we don’t like it, it is an important part of human experience.

“Aggressive behaviours are actions that are intended to cause injury and anxiety to others including hitting, kicking, destroying property, quarreling, derogating others, attacking others verbally and resisting requests.”

Aggression is a hostile motivation which refers to the individual’s wish or desire to cause injury or anxiety to others. A boy studying in standard I was always being beaten by a class mate without any reason and surprisingly the small victim never reported back as he was instructed by his grandfather not to be engaged in aggressive act.

When the beating was a regular affair, the victim’s Mama went to the school and complained. On enquiry it was noticed that the aggressive boy was hostile towards his father who insisted and compelled his son to always study and do well in the examination.

In the instant case, the hostility and aggression towards his father was transferred to an innocent class-mate who was very meek and mild. Freud’s view of aggression suggests that we are born with an aggressive drive and this innate motive expresses itself in action or fantasy, in sadism, destructiveness of war. Adler considered aggression as an instinct, but it is not same as the “Death Instinct” of Freud.

According to Adler aggression is self protection and the affirmation of the self. Freud identified aggression with an urge to destroy, where as Adler views it as an urge to dominate and subdue.

Mc Dougall (1908) has denoted the phenomenon of aggression in the instinct of combat on the basis of the hypothesis first postulated by Freud, Miller, Bollard and others of the Yale group. McDougall regards aggressive impulse is far from being injurious.

Miller Dollard (1939) and others of the Yale group view that aggression is always a consequence of frustration. In their classic book “frustration-Aggression” they hold that aggression is always a consequence of frustration.

But further studies show that though aggression is one of the important reactions to frustration, it is not the only one. Even sometimes with frustration of a minor nature considerable aggression takes place.

Thus various studies in the area of human aggression do suggest that aggressive behaviour is not an automatic outcome of the interaction of frustration and aggression. It is obvious from various studies that learning, past experience, cognition and various environmental factors are responsible for the aggressive behaviour. The literal meaning of aggression is to quarrel, to attack and to offend.

The term aggression examined from a general stand point has been used in a very broad sense by many to include all overt acts of hostility, attack, violence, assertion, intrusion, destruction and combat etc. The covert acts of aggression also include sarcastic remarks, taunts, abuse, undue criticism, character assassination, scandal, mongering, mocking etc.

The second category of aggression may not physically affect any body, but causes considerable mental agony, torture, anxiety, displeasure, inconvenience and psychological pain.

The first category of aggression which includes physical torture, attack, violence, destruction of property and dignity affect peace and prosperity of the society and its members. But all aggressions are not negative in character. In certain forms few of the aggressive actions may have social utility.

According to Kaplan and Sodack aggression is any form of behaviour directed towards the goal of harming or injuring another creature that is motivational to avoid such treatment. Aggression also means the desire to do harm which must be inferred from events that proceed to follow acts of aggression.

In most cases an aggressive behaviour is accompanied by negative thoughts and emotions like anger, rage, hostility, loud noise shouts, violence, kicking, jumping, running to and fro, pulling one’s own hair, and many more physical reactions. Tempertantnum in children is also a sign of aggressive behaviour.

When aggression is turned inside it may lead to suicide or attempted suicide. In some cases aggression may also express itself in relatively simple and milder reactions like name calling, criticizing and spreading rumour against the out group.

The intention to harm others is clearly expressed in aggressive actions. Along with anger and rage, anxiety may also accompany aggression and there is disappointment if the aggressor fails to harm the enemy or members of the out group.

Symonds (1931) has attached four meanings to the term aggression:

(1) Self Assertiveness.

(2) To gain possession either of a person, property or object.

(3) Hostility, attack or destruction either directly or indirectly.

(4) The act of control or sense of dominance. Symond holds “Aggression at the beginning of life is pleasurable and would always remain pleasurable were it not that we are taught otherwise”. Deutsh points out that aggression and hostility are inevitable concomitants of the process of growing up.

Aggression cannot be totally checked and moreover, it is required for survival, for protecting oneself, for reproduction and for the good things of life.

Sadism and dominancy also refers to aggressiveness. Sadism is a special kind of aggression in which the individual derives pleasure by inflicting pain. Miller and Bollard commenting on aggression said that sometimes aggression is directed at the frustrating agent, at other times it is transferred to some others who are quite innocent to be blamed.

While some forms of aggression are vigorous and undisguised, others are weak, subtle and round about. Aggression may sometimes be suppressed or repressed because of the restrictions or restraints imposed by the society and at some other times it may be directed towards, the self.

According to Rosenzweig, who is famous for his Picture Frustration Test, in some responses, aggression is directed to the external environment like blaming others and he calls this extra-punitive aggression.

On the other hand, when the person turns his aggressive feelings towards the self, it is called intrapunitive response commonly known as self aggression. Here the victim may simply blame himself for the frustration or suffering. The most dramatic form of self aggression is suicide.

Aggression is also sometimes accompanied by feeling of insecurity. The captains of industry, the scholars, the politicians who have achieved name and fame, but still struggling with inner feelings of unworthiness and failure, an over indulgent child, getting excessive love from the parents whose behaviour is not restricted, aggressive tendencies are found in them without check.

Those person who fail to develop frustration tolerance also show violent aggressive behaviour.

Aggression also occurs when an individual is dethroned from a dominant role with its accompanying frustrations, insecurity and feeling of inferiority. Finally a child may show aggressive behaviour because it is the only way he has learned to handle various frustrating situations.

The reflection of aggression can also be found in art and literature. Especially in modern poetry angry rejection of the world due to pangs of separation is expressed. Aggression is also found to be sublimated in many artistic creations, sports and adventures. Thus each and every creation of the modern world reveals the universal cry of aggressiveness.


Essay # 3. Development of Aggression:

A comparative study of different societies and cultures shows that aggression develops in the family and in the society where one lives and it differs according to the variation in culture. Aggression is undoubtedly a negative emotion and though, we don’t like it, it is an important part of human experience.

In every family aggression is expressed by its members in some form or other which the baby sees, observes and experiences. While in some families it is experienced in a lesser degree, in other families it may be experienced daily. Hence experience or expression of aggression is a normal affair and everybody experiences it, some more some less and some modestly.

Coming to the cultural influences on aggression the brilliant studies of Marget Mead and Ruth Benedict and other anthropologists suggest that in certain society’s evidence of aggression is lacking. The Arapesh and New Guinea tribes are calm and quiet, peace loving, cooperative and submissive.

Life is easy for them to pass perhaps because their frustrations are less or they have been taught to tolerate their frustration, or handle them in non aggressive ways.

The Mondugamor tribe on the other hand is over aggressive, hostile, fierce, war like and uncooperative perhaps because they have been frustrated in the basic need of food and love and they have also been taught simultaneously to handle their frustrations in an intolerant and aggressive manner.

Anthropologist Kluckhonn opines that aggressiveness is a matter of depending upon cultural variation and the nature of free floating aggression depends upon this. The importance of culture in the development of aggression is thus evident from the above analysis of different cultures.

It is said that there is some tinge of aggression in birth cry. Crying is never considered as a positive or pleasant reaction. After birth when the new borns cry because of cold or hot environment, because of hunger pangs, it indicates anger and fear. But before six months this cannot be clearly differentiated.

At the age of 8-9 months usually the child learns to show fear to strangers and at this age he starts becoming aware of various sources of threat and expresses his aggression in crying, in showing temper-tantrum, in throwing things here and there, in pinching, in tearing and etc. When children grow up, see the violent acts of their parents, like quarrelling, hitting each other, name calling etc. they also imitate the same.

Also when they hear stories of violence and see violent serials in television, particularly in cartoon net work and in films, they learn and imitate it. Examples are many, where perhaps in every family children start fighting after viewing a fighting picture or a fighting serial like Phantom or Spiderman.

Gradually when children grow up and mix with the outside environment and consequently find that many of their needs are not fulfilled, they show signs of aggressive behaviour which they have learnt from various social situations.

It is said that aggressive behaviour is more an outcome of social learning and observational. The way a child aggresses depends upon what he imitates from his role model like his parents, family members, peers and teachers.

In a study by Ames (1966) on upper middle class children it was demonstrated that the fantasy theme of violence dominated the stories they were told right from the age of two and continued to be so till they were live. Violence and aggression increase with the increase of age and it is found that anger as an emotion is experienced by the child next to fear which has the highest frequency in the child’s emotional life.

The more frustrating situations the child experiences daily in his environment, the more is the scope for violence. The child also learns a lot of aggressive behaviour from his parents, relations, neighbours and in laws.

Children’s aggression seems to be intimately related to activity level which is said to be strongly influenced by constitutional make up. Active children interact more frequently and more intensely with their parents, friends and playmates become involved in more situations that are likely to elicit aggressive responses.

Further, results show that there is a positive correlation between activity level and frequency of imitation of aggressive behaviour. The active children are more likely to be reinforced and motivated by their peers for socially aggressive behaviour.

Development of aggression in children depends upon multiple factors like intensity of his motivation i.e., his desire to hurt others, the degree of environmental frustration, his observation and imitation of aggressive models and the degree of guilt and anxiety associated with aggression.

Studies also show that peer’s reactions to the child’s behaviour will be an important determining factor of whether he maintains or changes his behaviour. Now a day it is found that many parents complain that their children become more aggressive and assertive once they attend nursery school.

In one intensive study by patter-son, Littman and Bricker (1967) on 2583 aggressive acts like bodily attack, attack with an object, invasion of territory and their consequences were recorded in the natural setting of two nursery schools.

The most significant finding of this study is that in both the nursery schools aggressive behaviour was frequently and strongly reinforced by other children. To add to this, those children who join nursery school with aggressive behaviour are already at high strength.

Very often it is found that the victim of aggression himself provided the positive reinforcement for the aggressor’s actions and thereby he is again and again attacked by the same peer using the same kind of aggressive techniques.

My grandson Anuraag age-six plus is studying in std. I. Daily he returned with a sad face from the school. Asked the reason, he used to say his class mate named X every day beats him, kicks him on his belly, takes away his pencil, rubber and even hides his Tiffin box. He never retorted or made any complain to the class teacher.

Once Anuraag’s grandfather informed the class teacher about this and instantly the teacher said, “but why Anuraag has never complained?” After a few days Anuraag was advised by his family members to object or retort back, and when he did this the other boy (the aggressor) stopped his aggressive act because he was stopped from being reinforced.

When the peers serve as models their aggressive acts are imitated. Now a clays aggression develops very fast during childhood because more aggressive models are found in the environment of the child. With more and more indiscipline, frustrated persons lacking in fixed goal and aim in life the children are exposed to an aggressive world full of horror and terror.

When they find that people are rewarded and reinforced for their aggressive behaviour, and are not punished, they also do the same.

Want of more positive social behaviour leads to the development of aggression in human beings. Passive children who participate in social activities are found to be frequent victims of aggression initially, but eventually if they counter attack (as in case of Anuraag), their counter attacks are reinforced i.e., the aggressor no more attacks the passive child.

Children who are originally passive do not show significant increase in their aggressive attacks. In sum, peer reinforcements may result in substantial changes in the aggressive behaviour of the child, but how much it will change depends upon his personality.

According to Freud, “The biological factors of helplessness bring in to being the first situation of danger and create the need to be loved when the human being is destined never to renounce. Freud has emphasized the significance of the first five years of life in the development of frustration and aggression”.

Thus, Issacs (1936) says, “knowledge is lacking, understanding has not yet begun, but wants and wishes, fears and angers, love and hate are there from the very beginning”. In the process of development of human child, different scopes for aggression are imposed on the child because of enormous frustrating experiences arising out of the child’s immediate environment.

Frustrations are imposed specially in the oral, anal and phallic stages by the process of feeding and elimination. Frustration arising out of toilet training and cleanliness is recognized as an important motivator for aggressive behaviour in early childhood. Thus, the basic source of aggression is the insecurity and biological helplessness during the childhood. Aggression also develops in the childhood during sibling zelousy.

If the child feels perfectly secured his growth of aggression will be minimized. An over indulgent and over protected child getting excessive love and shelter from the parents whose behaviour is not restricted or checked may show aggressive behaviour without inhibition. Such a child fails to develop frustration tolerance and his aggressive reactions take violent form.


Essay # 4. Types of Aggression:

Aggressive behaviour may manifest itself in different forms or types. Rosenzweig (1934) has put forward a substantial classification of different types of aggressive reactions to frustration.

(a) Extrapunitive:

In some reactions and responses aggression is directed to the external environment like blaming others and this is called “Extrapunitive”.

(b) Intrapunitive:

When the frustrated person turns his aggressive feelings towards self it is known as “Intrapunitive”, popularly called self aggression. Here the sufferer may simply blame himself for the frustration or cause of aggression. The most dramatic form of self aggression is suicide.

(c) Inpunitive:

It is the last type of aggressive reaction where the individual tries to avoid the blame altogether and attempts to switch over the problem. He may release his tension to some extent by reasoning and rationalizing. This classification of aggression by Rosenzweig covers more or less different types of aggression.

Aggressive behaviour may also manifest itself in two basic forms: such as Interpersonal and Intergroup forms. Murders, attack, riot, looting etc. are examples of inter personal aggression. War among nations, conflicts among groups of people is examples of intergroup aggression.

There is also another form of aggression called Institutionalized aggression which has the sanction of a group or society. Punishment awarded to the law breakers and criminals come under this category. This punishment becomes exemplary to the law breakers. It is awarded with the purpose to give a signal or warning to others not to indulge in anti social or criminal acts.

This type of institutionalized aggression is looked upon as an act of retaliation on the part of the society.

Tear gassing or firing by the police under a mob situation or killing enemies in war or giving death sentence or capital punishment to rapists, and murderers, killing terrorists or militants or notorious criminals during encounter, and such aggressive behaviours are glorified or even rewarded because they are sanctioned by law.

Take the recent case of death sentence to Dhananjaya Chatterjee who raped and brutally murdered a 14 year old school girl. This judgement by the Hon’ble Supreme Court was welcomed by most people of India. They wanted that lie should get exemplary punishment so that others in future will not dare to repeat such heinous crime against women.

Between the interpersonal and inter group forms of aggression the first form has no sanction of the society, rather hatred towards the culprits. But the second form has got sanctions of the society and law.

Interpersonal violence is illegal and it is fit for punishment. Secondly interpersonal violence without having any social sanction and not being accepted by human values and traditions creates strong sense of guilty and anxiety in the aggressive activity.

Besides the above types of aggression, aggression can also be classified as overt aggression, subdued aggression, covert aggression, self aggression, suppressed aggression which more or less cover Rosenzeweig’s classification of aggression.

The climax of overt aggression is found in war. Durbin and Bowllby in their book “Personal Aggressiveness and War” have analyzed the causes of war. They view that the raw material of war lies in the aggressiveness of humanity. Hostility is a form of subdued aggression.

Covert aggression refers to aggression not expressed orally. This is more found in case of women as evident from the study conducted by me on “Sex Difference in Reaction to Frustrating Situations” (1958) Culmination of Self aggression is best explained through suicide.

Women in India are taught to suppress their aggressive reactions. So while males show more overt aggression women show more covert and suppressed aggression in Indian societies.


Essay # 5. Sources of Aggression:

Determinants of aggression are also called causes or sources of aggression. Like frustration aggression may be the outcome of physical or biological and genetic factors, social, cultural, psychological and economic factors. There has been a lot of controversy regarding the roots of aggression. Psychologists have tried to answer the question. “Is aggression innate or learned” through their research studies and investigations.

After witnessing the horrible carnage of first world war, Freud concluded that human beings possess a powerful built in tendency in harm others. While this view of Sigmund Freud has been shared by many other scientists like Konrad Lorenz, the famous ethologist it is not widely accepted by the psychologists of the present time.

They are, to name a few Berkowitz (1993) Anderson and Anderson and Deuser (1996). Most believe that aggression is elicited by a wide range of external factors and events.

The various roots or causes of aggression are discussed below:

i. Physical, Biological and Hormonal Determinant:

Though the modern psychologists emphasize environmental and socio-cultural factors as major determinants of aggression, it does not imply that the biological and genetic factors have absolutely no role in human aggression. In-fact, they have some role. Besides Freud and his associate’s earlier view, some recent research findings indicate the role of hormonal influences in aggressive behaviour.

Especially the male sex hormone Testosterone may play a role in aggression. Drugs that reduce the level of testosterone in violent human males seem to reduce their aggression.

Further research on prisoners indicates that testosterone level becomes higher in those who have committed unprovoked violent crimes than among those who have committed nonviolent crimes.

Also testosterone levels seem to be related not only to aggression, but also to per social behaviour which refers to helpful and positive behaviour, Harris and her colleagues (1996) conducted a study where participants complicated questionnaires that measured their tendencies to behave aggressively and also to behave in a helpful nurturant manner in large number of situations.

Results also indicate that the higher the testosterone for both the sexes, the higher the tendency to engage in aggression and the lower the tendency to show helpful social (pro social) behaviour.

Although these results were found on the basis of correlations, further analysis indicated that relationship between testosterone and aggression was a direct one. i.e., increments in testosterone appeared to cause increased tendency to aggress.

Aggression no doubt is a universal phenomena and is found around the globe. Freud and many other psychologists of the past have considered aggression as an instinctive force. Aggression is an outcome of anger which is also found universally. So the physical and biological root of aggression cannot be totally denied. But it would also be wrong to say that aggression is only due to biological causes.

In sum, aggressive motivation and the aggression it produces actually arise from many different factors. Impulse control disorder and showing overtly violent behaviour may have a possible organic involvement. Experiments have shown that specific regions like the limbic system are associated with impulsive and violent activities.

By far the biological explanation of aggression and violence has been accepted by Freud and Lorenzo (1963) to explain human aggression. But Schneiria (1946, 1964) has pointed on the basis of animal studies that such theories are vastly over simplified for human aggression. Subsequent researches have supported Schneiria.

Some have questioned “Is there a biological tendency for animals to aggress against others of their species?” Results on modern biological Indies on animal behaviour show that conflict between aggregates of sub human animals in their natural habitats though not unknown is less frequent than commonly presumed.

South wick (1955, 1967) holds that both in nature and laboratory events the occurrence of conflict between aggregate of a species varies according to strictly situational factors and to past, experiences in the life history of the animals in question.

In certain strains of laboratory animals like rats, the frequency of aggressive responses is consistently higher than in other strains under the same conditions. In all strains however, early experiences do play some part as environmental circumstances like overcrowding, food supply etc.

Aggression and violence is undoubtedly influenced by physiological correlates. However the modern studies show that a model of animal aggression that is based on biological inherant tendencies or physiological arousal is inadequate to account for animal behaviour, not to speak of human behaviour.

Results of various studies lend support to the fact that aggression is more likely to be a learned response than an instinctive one. Many studies on human aggressive behaviour support the above view.

ii. Social and Cultural Determinants and Psychological Sources of Aggression:

Most experts agree that human aggression is influenced more strongly by a wide range of situational factors. These factors evoke its occurrence and shape its nature and form than merely by interested tendencies. Careful research since many decades has brought to light the role of social and cultural factors in the causation of aggression.

Aggressive motivation usually originates from the actions of others. When we see others showing these negative emotions, we also behave in the similar way. Studies of Mead and Benedict serve powerful evidence in support of the socio-cultural determinants of aggression.

Some cultures are much more peaceful and do not appreciate at all any type of violence. Several American thinkers and social scientists have raised the point that aggression and violence are dominant themes of American Culture, because they say that its short history is full- of violent happenings. India on the other hand is a peace loving country and Indian society does not appreciate aggressive behaviour of its citizens.

Several studies also indicate that violent and aggressive behaviour is typically the product of lower class culture. Persons belonging to lower classes are more prone to authoritarian attitudes than those coming from higher classes.

In a famous study conducted by Snortum (1971) on subjects from Poor, Middle and High SEs groups, a specially constructed questionnaire was applied in which many hypothetical criminal situations of different degrees of seriousness were presented to the subjects and they were asked to indicate the punishment they would prescribe for each of them.

Results showed that by and large the poor income groups tended to prescribe harsher punishment than the middle and higher income groups. This proved that the lower class tends to be more authoritarian in their outlook towards life.

The study of Lipset (1969) further supports the above view. He found that the lower and working class tend to prefer authoritarian rather than democratic modes of behaviour and authoritarian person are found to be more aggressive in their approach with others.

Moreover, the socio economic environment of the lower class to which a child is exposed is so impoverished and harsh that it is but natural for him to develop aggressiveness, in tolerance, hostility and violence.

In a study by Baxter, Learner and Miller College students from authoritarian and democratic families were asked to learn certain tasks under rewarding, information giving and punishment conditions. Findings indicated that students from the authoritarian back ground liked the instructors who punished them for the mistakes they made in learning their tasks.

Conversely, students coming from the democratic family background liked those instructors who helped them in explaining the task, pointed out their mistakes and rewarded their correct responses while learning.

These finding lead one to conclude that the authoritarian family structure in the lower class is likely to teach their children to use the same authoritarian methods in life and the consequence is reacting to every situation with violence and aggression.

Prejudice, which is otherwise called judgement made in advance, is one of the important causes of aggression. Prejudice grows in the society and in the minds of men. Social conditions are responsible for the growth of prejudice.

Daily we are exposed to various frustrations and social situations leading to aggressive acts. Aggression originates usually from t he behaviour of a person and others see these negative emotions and imitate them.

Let us analyze ourselves. Why I lost my temper yesterday? Because my helper at home did not respond to my instructions. Why I lost my temper last Sunday? Because my grandson Anuraag threw his toys here and there, made the room dirty and did not listen to me.

Last month I went to a shop to buy some dress and the shopkeeper instantly became hostile when I said that the dresses are not up to my choice. A child who is not given money to buy ice cream may show aggressive behaviour by rolling on the floor, crying and showing tantrums.

In this way daily we experience anger and become aggressive because of the social and environmental situations which create frustration. Frustration is therefore a potent factor in eliciting aggressive behaviour, it has been however observed that not all frustrating situations elicit aggressive behaviour.

Some may try to react in various other ways like obeying, tolerating, suppressing their aggression, by making rationalization, showing withdrawal behaviour and by transferring their aggression to some other objects.

The probability of manifestation of aggression and its degree as a reaction in any situation may depend upon his past experience and the degree to which he has been rewarded and punished for such behaviour in the past. The availability and influence of aggressive models also influence one’s aggressive behaviour.

Emphasizing the role of learning on aggressive behaviour Bandura, Ross and Ross (1963) have shown through their famous Babo Doll experiment how children learn to be aggressive by observing an adult aggressive model.

When the child finds his parents and family members, peers, teachers very amiable and reacting to frustration, anxiety and failures in a calm and quiet manner, he also learns to react to various ups and downs of life in a normal manner without showing much anguish, rage and violence.

Social scientists explain the indiscipline, aggressive, unruly, violent and ruthless behaviour of many children, adolescents and youths as a consequence of imitating aggressive models in the society. Television, Cinema and Video Films add a lot to aggressive behaviour of human beings.

Aggression is always encouraged by a motive which may be personal, social or environmental. The motive to quarrel with someone or blame him, the motive to kill someone, to spread bad rumours against someone, the motive to spoil some one’s carrier, or to assault him physically may remain at the psychological level reinforced by the social and environmental factors.

Effects of reward and punishment respectively play a major role in aggravating or diminishing aggression. Situational factors like presence of friends may also influence one’s aggressive reaction.

Aggressive behaviour in one social situation may also be generalized to other settings of the similar kind. A child Ramu saw one day his friend spitting at his mother’s face when her mother did not allow him to see Cartoon Network on Television.

Next day, Ramu also started spitting on her mother’s face for similar reasons. The frequency of aggressive behaviour increases with the higher and frequent exposure to aggressive models and also because of reward to various aggressive responses. Arun a 5 years old boy did not want to go to school and threw his school bag and other things here and there.

When his mother gave him five rupees to buy ice cream, he agreed to go to school. Being encouraged by reward for this aggressive behaviour next day he followed the same tactics and showed greater aggression before going to school. Though punishment to aggressive behaviour can reduce or prevent aggression, punishment should be according to the principles of learning.

Faulty child rearing practices, strict toilet training, allowing the baby to cry and cry continuously, bottle feeding the baby instead of breast feeding, bad parenting, not being friendly to the child’s reactions and small mistakes and ignorance may be important sources of aggression. Environmental stresses thus make people aggressive.

Finding of studies by Margarate Mead, Ruth Benedict and other cultural anthropologists reveal that culture plays a vital role in producing aggressive behaviour. Though the influence of society and culture cannot be separated as they over-lap each other, studies of cultural anthropologists and social psychologists indicate the important role of culture in the increment or minimization of aggressive and violent behaviour.

Kohen (1955) has observed that lower middle class culture encourages aggression. He says the lower class individual has little or no confidence in himself and sees little point in making effort to make himself ready for better job and future success.

The essence of lower class position is that it is at the mercy of the forces of higher class, i.e., at the mercy of the forces and people beyond one’s control and often beyond one’s understanding.

Tennabaum (1963) describes a street scene in a lower class locality. He says streets and sidewalks swarm with children engaged in all sorts of violent and energetic activities, shouting, screaming, fighting, laughing. The adults leaning over the walls and windows watching with the scene, occasionally shouting and scolding, indicating their approval or disapproval to the aggressive acts of their children.

Sometime they also encourage their children to act more violently. This description characterizes the life, culture and style of living of lower class people. Lower class people are always depressed, tensed and anxious for their financial constraints. So they become aggressive with slightest provocation.

A comparative study of different societies as well as cultures shows that aggression develops in a society and it differ according to the variation in culture.

This has been discuss in detail under development of aggression. In 1951, Rosenzweig’s picture frustration test was administered to Negroes and whites of North and South America. Northern Negroes reacted with more extra punitive and less intra punitive than Northern Whites. This may be attributed to cultural variation.

Though the roots of aggression lie in the society, culture and child rearing practices, since frustration is universally also universally found, aggression is also universally found irrespective of social learning and cultural influences. Even children from happy homes provide influences with all facilities and stimulating environment also show some spontaneous aggression.

Hence even if the child’s socio-cultural, psychological environment is kept free from all adverse factors leading to aggression, aggression cannot be totally uprooted. It can only be diminished, controlled and managed by controlling the socio-cultural and psychological factors conducive to aggression.

iii. Direct Provocation:

Direct provocation from another person is another social factor that often plays a role in aggression. A teacher who insulted and punished his student for not doing ‘home work’ was killed by the student.

In another incident a teacher killed the student by strangling him because the student misbehaved with her and called her a bitch. In a third incident a son aged 22 years killed his father in a kitchen knife because he did not give him Rs. 500/- for purchasing a pair of shoe.

In another incident a teacher asked all the 24 students of the class to give five slaps on the face of a 5th standard girl who allegedly did not do her home work. Thus the girl got 24 X 5 = 120 slaps on her face and was removed to the hospital for treatment and the teacher was sacked from her job.

These cases indicate that due to direct provocation, violence, assault, aggression and various other crimes take place. Verbal insults and physical actions interpreted as aggressive in nature often lead to the persons in the receiving end to reciprocate with the result that aggression and counter aggression can develop.

In a recent incident at Sundargarh in Orissa two persons wanted to buy mutton for Rs. 100/- per kg. though the market rate was Rs. 120/-. Though the salesman repeatedly denied ro sell mutton at Rs. 100/- both the youngsters compelled him to pay at the rate they wanted.

This produced violent quarrel between both the parties and the two youths returned without any mutton. In the evening of the same day they hatched a plan and murdered the salesman. (Courtesy; E.T.V. Oriya). Thousand and thousand cases of aggression take place because of direct provocation.

iv. Economic Factors:

It has been already discussed how poverty and lower income push a person from outside to commit aggression and crime. Economically disadvantaged persons being unable to provide a stimulating environment, proper facility and care to their children, expose them to a lot of frustrations. The parents of poor families also face tremendous difficulties for making a good living.

These factors independently or combined expose the children to frustrating experiences to which they react with aggression. Economic insecurity stands on the way of their all-round development. So they indulge in violence and assault being overburdened with frustration and rage.

They blame the society for their helplessness and misfortune. They feel that they are being exploited by the higher economic groups and rebel, revolt in the long run. But that does not mean that people from rich families with all facilities, growing up in a secured and stimulating environment do not show violence and aggression.

But in most societies, the dominant groups having more economic power are usually highly prejudiced against the minority groups. Experience and day to day news indicate that unemployed are engaged in aggression and violence, thefts to make quick money.

v. Prejudice:

Prejudice though is a form of aggression, in a wider sense it actually facilitates aggression. Hostility in situations is often expressed as a form of prejudice. Because of prejudice, one group may disapprove the beliefs, values, actions and style of living of another person.

Readily identifiable qualities of the target group like colour of the skin, poverty, backwardness, sex, strange religious practices, dress, and illiteracy, may lead to hostility towards the out group. This may subsequently culminate into a feeling of aggression or an act of violence against the target group.


Essay # 6. Environmental Sources of Aggression:

While research studies suggest the tremendous importance of social factors in the causation of aggressive behaviour, it also stems from the environment.

Environmental factors of aggression refer to any condition or factor in the physical environment that make individuals uncomfortable like high temperature, mob or crowd behaviour, excessive noise from television or loud speakers or human beings which are unpleasant and irritating.

The negative feelings produced by such atmosphere increase aggressive motivation in various ways. During extreme heat when we feel bad and uncomfortable we get irritated and annoyed.

This is a common experience. Thus disturbances in the physical environment may reinforce negative thoughts, negative emotions and increase aggressive motivation in several ways. This feeling may lead to attribute the actions of others as hostile though they are not so.

This may further lead us to think in a way that may activate our aggressive motives. Research findings thus strongly support the role of environmental factors as a source of aggression.


Essay # 7. Injustice in Work Place:

Frustration does play a role in aggression when individuals feel that their interests and prestige have been thwarted such interference or blocking produces frustration which has been a powerful cause of aggression.

Injustice in work place is recently found to be an important cause of aggression leading to work place violence. In violent out bursts employees attack and even kill other persons with whom they work.

Instances are not rare where subordinates are found killing or murdering their seniors and boss. Recently a driver at Sambalpur was alleged to murder the land lady because she did not pay the money he wanted and tore the license of the driver.

In another incident a maid servant became violent when her land lady denied her leave to go home. The same night she planned to kill the land lady. Before leaving the kitchen in the night she kept a bowl of water on the gas stove and she switched on the gas stove and locked the room.

The land lady used to come to the kitchen in the early morning every day to heat water for her bath. Next morning when the land lady entered the kitchen, she smelled gas and by God’s grace did not light the stove because of her presence of mind and was saved. The maid servant’s plan to burn the land lady was a reaction to her frustration.


Essay # 8. Sex and Age Differences in Aggression:

Findings of various research investigations and general observations of day to day behaviour of human beings indicate that the form, style, frequency and intensity of the child’s aggressive responses seem to be the functions of his social learning experiences to a great degree.

It is held by Bandura and Walters (1963) “In the area of aggression social training consists largely in teaching a child to be aggressive only in certain ways. For example, he may be taught to defend his principles (or his parents), but not to attack his opponent physically”.

Men and women in all cultures from the very moment of birth are perceived and treated differently. The tasks assigned to males and females vary to a great extent. They wear different dresses, play different toys and even study in different schools.

In general, society teaches women to be meek and mild, submissive, shy, tender hearted and sympathetic. Women are cared like a delicate flower, a symbol of beauty, love and tolerance. Society teaches women to be more submissive than aggressive, to be more tender than tough. They are taught to solve situations through tolerance and sacrifice.

Anastasi remarks “these distinctiveness are impressed upon the individual from early childhood either by actual overt difference in training and play activities, by the subtle but equally potent inculcation of traditional beliefs and ideals”.

Hence pronounced variation in intellectual and emotional development of the two sexes is expected. There is no doubt that in almost all cultures boys receive more reward and encouragement and less punishment for aggressive behaviour than girls do.

In Indian culture if a girl or woman talks loudly, laughs loudly and even walks fast, she is criticized by the family and society for her aggressive acts. On the contrary, many parents believe that the ideal boy should be able to fight back and defend himself when attacked.

He is said effeminate when he remains submissive, when not able to defend himself if attacked or scolded. Boys are generally not made to feel guilty and anxious about aggressive behaviour as girls are. During the pre-school year therefore boys are allowed to express more aggression than girls in play and fantasy.

Fighting, physical attacks, negative behaviour quarrelling lying, verbal aggression, argument, destructiveness and temper tantrum are more common among boys than among girls. In every society while boys are allowed to express aggression to their frustrations or interference of goals, aspirations, girls are asked to tolerate their frustration or withdraw from the situation.

These sex differences in aggression become more marked as age increases.

The data of one observational study shows that 2 year old boys and girls scream, hit and cry with approximately equal degree and frequency. But by the age of 4 boys do more hitting and relatively less screaming than girls do. This indicates increase of sex differences in aggression with age which reflects stronger, more through learning of patterns of aggressive expression that are considered appropriate for one’s own sex.

Men and women learn to display those forms of aggression that are defined as culturally acceptable and socially accepted and to inhibit aggressive expressions that are considered less acceptable. Women show more suppressed aggression and less overt aggression compared to the males as per the findings of a study conducted by this author on “sex differences in reaction to frustrations”.

General sex differences are noticed in advertisement, selling. Sex differences are hinted by Terman and Miles on anger, fear, disgust and pity. For all types of emotions the responses of girls show greater affectivity. Sex differences in quarrel have been found by Green (1933), sex differences in conflict by Jersild, Markey, Rough (1935).

Sex differences in dominance and as ascendance by Allport and Bernreuter (1933), worry by Sunne (1925) and sex differences in anxiety by this author. With regard to social adjustment boys exceed girls and this ultimately implies the presence of considerable social aggressiveness. Sex differences in suggestibility and emotion is also found.


Essay # 9. Hostility and Aggression:

Hostility is a form of aggression. Hostility may turn in to aggression at any time, particularly the moment it finds a scope for outlet. Social norms, standards and laws set a limit to the degree of hostility one can show to another beyond which it is not allowed.

One may express his displeasure and anguish to his subordinate employee when he comes office late. This is permitted by social norms. But if one gives a slap for this fault his hostile behaviour will not be tolerated either by society or by law.

Thus, most societies tolerate hostility up to a certain degree and the norm is limited. Hostile reactions are sublimated in different forms of adventures and athletics. Hostility is also expressed very often in prejudice. Group prejudice is actually aggravated by feelings of hostility and dis-likeness.

Once a group develops prejudice towards another group, he is always in the readiness to show further aggression towards the out group. The hostility and prejudiced behaviour towards the out group or enemy is usually learnt during childhood when the child has not developed his reasoning capacity to differentiate between right and wrong, justice and injustice.

Such behaviours towards the targeted group have also social sanctions.

Prejudice aggravates aggressive and social behaviour and fight between two social groups. It may also culminate in violence of any kind, any degree. Communal riots, mob behaviour, fight between two social groups, two nations, two minorities or majority groups may clearly be due to prejudice.

The killing of African Americans (Blacks) by the whites, the atrocities on scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and minority groups, the violence and torture against women, the harassment of high castes on the low castes and higher economic groups on the financially weaker sections of the society are examples of hostility and aggression.

Findings of several studies indicate that highly authoritative suspicions sarcastic and bitter personalities are more prone to hostility aggression and violence against members of the out group.


Essay # 10. Experimental Studies on Aggression:

Aggression is a negative emotion which is experienced by every normal person at one time or another. Every person experiences anger and hostility depending upon the environment in which he lives. Aggression does more harm than good to one’s personality and relationship with the society.

Therefore psychologists have attempted to make continuous studies on aggression long since. But tremendous difficulties are experienced while studying aggression experimentally since aggression is a dangerous behaviour.

Inspite of these difficulties, studies on frustration and aggression began rigorously in between 1930—1940 by Rosenzweig (1934), Miller and Bollard (1939) Sears (1940) and others of the Yale group including Watson, Milgram, Mohanty and many others.

Rosenzweig conducted his famous picture Frustration Test for evaluating a person’s characteristics models of reactions in everyday situations of frustration. This study consists of 24 cartoons representing incidents of everyday life mostly of frustrating significance to each other.

The subjects are instructed to write down or speak out the reply made by the second person. Responses were divided into different types of aggressive reactions such as extra punitive, intrapunitive and inpunitive. Extra punitive responses were found to be most frequent in adults and children of various age groups, where as intra-punitive responses were the least observed.

Extra punitive response became less and less as children grew older. Differences between various age groups were remarkable. However differences between boys and girls were not significant.

Miller and Bollard (1939) applied their general principle of their frustration aggression hypotheses to the blacks of U.S.A. This study is a starting point of all research in the area of frustration and aggression. Sears and Sears (1939) attempted to examine the hypotheses that the strength of instigation to aggression varies directly with the amount of frustration.

The experiment was conducted on a five months old baby’s hunger instigation as an independent variable. For three weeks the feeding of the child was interrupted continuously by withdrawal of the bottle from the baby’s mouth and the baby experienced sucking frustration.

However, as the child became more nearly satiated, the strength of frustration decreased and immediately aggressive responses became less and less. Two questionnaire studies conducted by Doob, Sears and Miller have added additional evidence in support of the above view.

Doob and Sears (1940) in a further study found that there is progressive increase in the amount of overt aggression as the instigation to aggression becomes stronger.

Sears, Hovlond and Miller (1940) conducted a study on college students to establish techniques of measuring aggression. The subjects were asked to remain awake the whole night without food although they were given false promishes for dinner, game and cards during the sleepless period. They were even prohibited to smoke.

All these frustrations led to irritation and annoyance. Consequently they expressed aggression in terms of coldness, indifference, hostility, complaints and uncooperative behaviour. The subjects were so mud annoyed that they remarked “All psychologists are mad”.

Watson made a comparative study of the behaviour of 230 college students with insecure and frustrating childhood experiences and secured happy childhood experiences. The two comparative groups showed significant differences in their aggressive behaviour, the frustrated group showing greater aggression than the secured group.

Dembo, Keister, Updergraff found that the frequency of aggression was correlated with the degree to which the child can solve the problem. Those could not solve showed more aggression and vice versa.

Good enough, Isanc, Green, Jersild and others have investigated aggressive behaviour in children as a consequence of frustration- Interference with a normal desire to go to sleep has produced a great variety of aggressive actions as Sears, Hovland and Miller have reported in their relevant literature.

Sears and Sears have further founds interference with eating has caused angry crying in young babies and air increase in snapping and biting behaviour in rats.

This author also found that interference with the eating of her six months old grandson in the middle of bottle feeding caused angry crying and physical displeasure like stampping both his legs repeatedly when the feeding bottle is taken away from his mouth or when the feeding bottle is full of milk is shown to him but not put inside his mouth Interestingly it was further noticed that when the baby was kept in position for feeding, shown the feeding bottle, but putting it inside his mouth was delayed, he cried more loudly and stampped both his legs vigorously thus indicating greater annoyance.

Studies made by Doob and Sears (1939), Bellack, Rodrick and Kiebroff indicate that the amount of aggression depends upon the strength of frustration as well as the amount of interference.

A few studies have also been conducted on the displacement of aggression in support of the hypothesis that strong tendency of inhibited aggression is sometimes displaced. Aggression towards senior dominant members of the family like father and brother may be sublimated in politics as found by Laswell, Miller and Dollard in an experiment where the rats were made to fight with each other.

Then when a doll was kept in place of the rat, the rat started attacking the doll also which shows displacement of aggression. In the similar may aggression is displaced when a frustrated person attacks the innocent by standers or on lookers not cemented in any way with the causation of frustration.

This occurs more frequently when the real cause of frustration remains unidentified. Normally we see that when an employee is scolded by his boss in the office he breaks the cups and plates at home at slightest provocation, beats or scolds his wife without obvious reasons.

Similarly when a wife is scolded by her husband, she displaces her aggression on her children or maid servant or on the objects. These are very common examples in our day to day life. Through aggressive behaviour or displacement of the same frustration is released.

Hovland and Sears (1940) found that frustration was associated with low price of cotton in the south. But an innocent by stander, an African American became the victim, of attack. Scape- goating and cases of similar types show the displacement of aggression though the persons and objects attacked may have no link with the origin of frustration.

In cases of displacement usually the anger and hostility is displaced on a less powerful and submissive person who may not object to it. Holmes (1972) conducted an experiment on aggression displacement and guit with 60 male under graduates. The displacement of aggression has been demonstrated experimentally through some attitude studies.

Males of 18-20 years age group while attending a summer camp were requested to indicate their attitudes towards Mexicans and Japanese before and after the situation involving frustration.

A comparison of responses in the two situations indicated that the subjects checked a smaller number of desirable traits after frustration than before. Mc Clelland and Apicella conducted a study on 28 SS who were subjected to severe and moderate amount of frustration in the laboratory and demonstrated various types of aggressive responses, attacks, withdrawal and rationalization.

Steward (1945) after conducting a series of studies on rats found that as age increased there was a drop in the number and intensity of aggressive behaviour. There was also evidence that aggression occurred due to conditional response.

Hottenbuge (1951) made a study on the effects of frustration on doll play and found that children highly frustrated and punished at home were more aggressive in doll play and children only kept in the laboratory for doll play experiment were less aggressive.

Livon and Mussen (1957) made a study on the relationship between ego control and overt aggression and dependency. The study aimed to test whether individual differences in ego control capacity are related to degree of inhibition of aggression and dependency behaviour.

Results showed that aggressive impulses can be inhibited by ego control procedure. Lesser (1957) attempted to find out the effect of encouragement and discouragement on aggression. Results showed that material attitude atleast to some extent determine the relationship between fantasy and overt aggression.

Studies on sex differences in reaction to frustration have been conducted by Mohanty (1958), Rosenzweig (1969) Barun (1969). In all these studies male subjects showed significantly more aggressive responses than females. Following the techniques of Doob, Miller and Sears Mohanty prepared a Frustration—Reaction schedule consisting of 10 different frustration evoking situations and 8 different reaction patterns.

Results indicated that male and female groups differed significantly in an overall basis in their reaction patterns to normal frustrating situations. The female college students appeared to be particularly regressive and responded the reactions denoting withdrawal behaviour than male subjects. On the contrary the male subjects were found to respond to significantly more aggressive reactions.

In a study of physical aggression as a function of frustration and physical attack, Taylor and Richard (1971) investigated the relationship between physical aggression, two types of frustrations and attack.

They allowed twenty frustrated and twenty non frustrated male undergraduates to compete in a task dealing with reaction time with opponents who tried to give them increasing amount of shock. The intensities of aggression varied directly with the intensity of physical attack. None of the frustration manipulation influenced shock setting behaviour.

The difficulties faced in the study of aggression were solved to some extent through a modification of the A.H. Buss Aggression Machine procedure (1961). The technique of placing the research participants in a situation where they were told that they can harm another person in some manner although actually they cannot was first developed by Arnold Buss.

Whether aggression was instrumental or non-instrumental in overcoming the frustration and whether frustration was arbitrary and non-arbitrary was the purpose of the study. Results indicated that more aggression occurred under the’ instrumental than under the non-instrumental condition.

Texler (1976) has discussed in “Frustration a fact not a feeling”, the relationship between frustration and low self acceptance. It is believed that frustration is a fact and not a feeling and so it can teach patients better to tolerate frustration. It was found that long term frustration can be minimized in the client by teaching him to tolerate the risk of failing to achieve immediate goals through assertiveness.

Bandura, Ross and Ross (1963) conducted a study on taking two groups of nursery school children on the problem of imitation of aggressive model. In this study while the controlled group was exposed to non aggressive, amiable adult models, the experimental group was exposed to an aggressive adult model which kicked a big doll, scolded and inserted it.

Then both the groups were allowed to play together in a room with several toys. Observation showed that children of the experimental group showed more aggressive behaviour towards the toys and dolls compared to the children of the control group.

Thus social scientists explain the aggressive, violent and indiscipline behaviour of modern children and youths as a consequence of imitation from society, television and cinema.

In a survey on frustration and prejudice in South Africa, made by Lever (1976) it was observed that the proponents of the Frustration-Aggression theory regard prejudice as a form of aggression. In this sui-vey three studies on the effect of frustration on prejudice in South Africa are described.

Results show that there seems to be some evidence for a frustration sympathy relationship which may or may not be peculiar to South Africa.

Social Psychologists in the past as well as present have shown vigorous interest in the laboratory and field experiments to identify the various variables of aggression. Stanley Milgram’s study is notable in this context. Two persons, a teacher and a student were selected by lottery for this experiment.

The learner (the student) was then strapped in an electric chair which was devised in such a way that varying degrees of electric shock were to be administered on him if he made mistakes while learning the task given to him.

Electric shock was to be given to him in varying degrees for varying degrees of mistakes. It was noticed that when the level of shock was increased to 300 volts, the ‘S’ could not make any response. Also after getting higher degree of shock they showed impulsive and irresponsible behaviour.

Results of several experiments conducted by Zimbardo indicate that aggression against a victim is facilitated if both the victim and the aggressor are de-individualized in the same manner. When a stigma is attached to a person, he is called de-individualized and he looks less human and therefore fit for aggression.

Experimental findings of this type give the clue to the causes of severe aggressiveness and violent attacks on the members of the minority groups who differ considerably in their qualities and characteristics from the majority groups. Aggression as studies show is aggravated by previous histories of conflict or the presence of other groups which may be hostile to the interests of the threatened group.


0 Replies to “Aggression Psychology Essay Questions”

Lascia un Commento

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *