(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
(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
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
Theories of Aggression
(Does Anybody know what Instinct Theory is ?)
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
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
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.
(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
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
(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
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.
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
4. How you will measure /interpret results (questionnaire may be,
5. Rationale for your experiment (why this experiment)
Each group will report in turn about how they would measure aggression.
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