(Think for 2 mins and give me a definition of Aggression)

Aggression is defined as behaviour intending to bring harm or negative consequences to others.


Hostile versus Instrumental - Aggression can be defined as hostile or Instrumental

(What do you think hostile aggression is)

Hostile Aggression is aggression that intends harm as its primary goal e.g Yelling at a child to make her feel bad is hostile aggression

(what do you think instrumental aggression is)

Instrumental Aggression is aggression is aggression that intends harm as a means (instrument) to another goal e.g Yelling at a child to make her stop drawing on the walls is instrumental aggression.

(Write on Marker Board Aggression can either be AntiSocial or Pro Social, Have a think what this means and give me examples 5 Mins)

Aggression can be either antisocial or prosocial in form. Antisocial aggression intends harm in terms of a violation of social norms e.g A thief who shoots a cashier while robbing a bank is committing antisocial aggression. Prosocial aggression is aggression which takes place for the good of society e.g Police Officer having to use aggression when catching a murderer at the end of a chase.


Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis- Dollard et al (1939)

(Does Anybody know what the Frustration Aggression Hypothesis is ?)

The hypothesis made the following statements


1) Frustration always leads to some form of aggression


2) Aggression always stems from frustration


These statements were very bold and have since been modified


Berkowitz(1989)(revised frustration-aggression hypothesis) argues that frustration is an aversive, unpleasant experience and frustration leads to aggression because of this fact . Basically frustration sometimes causes aggression because of a basic affect between negative affect and aggressive behaviour



Theories of Aggression

(Does Anybody know what Instinct Theory is ?)

Instinct Theory:


According to instinct theory of aggression people aggress because it is part of human nature to do so(innate/inborn tendency) . Freud agreed with instinct theory , Freud argued that aggression stems mainly from a death wish or instinct (thanatos) which is possessed by everybody. Freud continues by arguing that this instinct is initially aimed at self-destruction but it is soon directed outward, toward others, the hostile impulses of the instinct increase over time and if they are not released will very soon reach high levels which would be capable of generating dangerous acts of violence. If a person is violent to another person they will be subsequently be less aggressive than before the act the release of this emotion is called Catharsis.

Lorenz(1974) Ethological approach argued that aggression occurs via an inherited fighting instinct. Basing his argument on evolution Lorenz argued that aggression mostly occurred when it came to mating in a species, so this aggression made sure that only the fittest and strongest of individuals would be able to pass their genes onto the next generation.



Evidence against Instinct Theory


Levels of aggression vary tremendously in different societies, which demonstrates that aggression is influenced by social and cultural factors, therefore Social Psychologists reject instinct theories of aggression.



Social Learning Theory

(Does Anybody know what Social Learning Theory is ?)

This theory is based on the fact that aggression is learned

People learn   1)Which persons or groups are appropriate targets for aggression

                        2)What actions by others either justify or require aggressive retaliation

                        3)What situations or contexts are ones in which aggression is appropriate or inappropriate


Observational Learning plays a big part in aggression. The process of observing and then imitating a specific behaviour is often called modelling. We learn certain specific social behaviours through modelling. A very famous study devised by Bandura et al(1961) used modelling to find out if aggression was socially learnt behaviour. The experiment was conducted as follows ' A nursery school child is at work on a picture. An adult in another part of the room is working with some Tinker Toys. The adult then gets up and for nearly 10 minutes, kicks and throws a large inflated Bobo doll around the room, all the while yelling such remarks as "sock him in the nose...Hit him down.....Kick him."

After observing this outburst, the child is taken to another room where there are many appealing toys. But soon the experimenter interrupts the child's play and explains that she has decided to save these good toys "for the other children." The frustrated child is now taken to an adjacent room containing a few toys including a bobo doll. Left alone what does the child do ? Compared to other children who were not exposed to the adult model, those children who had observed the aggressive outburst were much more likely to lash out at the doll. Apparently, observing the adult model beating up the doll had lowered their inhibitions. But something more than lowered inhibitions was at work, for the children also imitated the very acts, using the identical words, that they had observed.


Evaluation of Social Learning Theory


Social Psychologists argue very strongly that whether a person will aggress or not in a certain situation depends on a number of factors including the persons past experience and current reinforcements

 (rewards) they believe Social Learning Theory to be a good theory because its factors are open to change which they argue is promising with respect to the possibility of preventing or controlling overt aggression.



Biological Theory

(Does anybody know what Biological Theory is ?)

Biological differences in aggression may be due to innate differences (genetic) or due to environmental (possibly social) factors as in case of diet or drugs(i.e alcohol)

 A study by Van Goozen et al (1994) found that aggression may be linked to disorders in neural mechanisms that regulate our emotions, they studied female transsexuals(females who had decided to change their gender to male) as part of their treatment they received regularly large doses of male sex hormones (testosterone). Throughout the study the transsexuals completed questionnaires which were designed to assess their level of overt aggression and their tendency to become angry in various situations, it was found that reports of angryness had become appreciably more apparent since the participants had started taking (Testosterone)


Evaluation of Biological Theory


Biological factors may well play a role in aggressive behaviour alongside social and cognitive factors.



Gender Differences in Aggression


Are Males more Aggressive than Females ?


Harris (1994) argued that males are more likely to perform aggressive actions and also become a target for this aggressive behaviour from other males.


Bettencourt and Miller discovered that males are significantly more likely than females to be aggressive towards other people even when these people have not provoked them in any manner. However in situations where provocation is present the gender difference diminishes and in some cases even disappears, this basically means that when people are under provocation a similar aggressive tendency is demonstrated whether that person be male or female.

(Ask the group what they understand by this)

(Males are aggressive all the time even without provocation yet females are more passive unless they need to demonstrate aggression)


Males are more likely than females to engage in various forms of Direct physical aggression (hitting, punching, kicking, use of weapons)


Females are more likely than males to engage in forms of indirect verbal aggression(telling lies, spreading rumours behind the victims back


Bjorkqvist et al (1994) argued that males will eventually start to use indirect forms of aggression as they mature but females will always 'Outshine ' them in this respect.


Why ? These Gender Differences

Two Possibilities


1) Social-Role Interpretation-

Social Expectations are such that females are more emotional and care for the well being of others. Whereas many societies expect males to be more assertive and masterful.


2) Biological Interpretation-

Christiansen and Knussman(1987) argued that in males the higher the level of testosterone(male sex hormone) the higher the level of aggression either reported or shown by the research participants



Television and Aggressive Behaviour


Leyens et al (1975) argued that seeing violence causes violence, they found that in a study with a group of delinquent boys that they displayed significantly more violence toward their peers after watching violent films than did a control group of delinquent boys who saw non-violent films. In addition, the kinds of aggressive acts the boys displayed frequently duplicated those depicted in the films.


Eron (1987) conducted a longitudinal study, it was found that 9 year old children who watched numerous violent television programmes were found to be aggressive people ten years later and the same participants were found to be even more aggressive twenty years later.


Phillips (1983) found that Murder rates in the United States were found to increase by more than 12% over the expected rate for the three days following televised championship boxing matches. The largest increases in murders occurred after the most heavily publicised and widely seen matches.





In pairs


Design an experiment to find out how aggression occurs.

(You need to incorporate in your report the following

1. What kind of participants and why (age group, gender etc.)

2. Hypothesis i.e It is hypothesised that there will be significantly more cars on the road if it rains

3. Method

4. How you will measure /interpret results (questionnaire may be, observation technique)

5. Rationale for your experiment (why this experiment)


Each group will report in turn about how they would measure aggression.


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