Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
Frustration: Aggression as a Drive
Put together in the late 30s, early 40s. It suggested that frustration was the emotion that
people will experience when their progress towards a goal was somehow compromised.
They thought that this frustration would somehow make them aggress. Example: road rage.
According to this model, all aggression was caused by frustration.
It was thought that what aggression did was to reduce the drive that was created by
frustration (there was a cathartic element to it).
Agression could be towards the source of the frustration, or displaced. Displacement could
occur when it was not safe to be aggressing against the target of the frustration. This also
served the purpose of reducing the drive to aggress further. This letting out of one’s anger
was called “catharsis”, and was defined as the reduction in one’s need to aggress further.
We begin with a goal-pursuit that leads to frustration. This experience in frustration leads
to the drive to aggress. If you are able to aggress against the target of your aggression, you
have a direct expression of your aggression. But if you are in a situation where you cannot
aggress at the target, it is displaced to another target or it can go inwards. This can take the
form of self-harm behaviours such as suicide.
The proponents of this model tried to find examples in the real world where a link
explained the phenomena. One of the things that they looked at was the relationship
between heat and violence.
The Link Between Heat and Violence
We know that if we are in a hot environment, this will be associated with negative feelings.
At hot times, according to the frustration:aggression theory, your threshold for aggression
will be lower. When they looked at different examples of aggression, regardless of the type
of aggressive act we are looking at, in countries where there are seasons that vary in terms
of temperature, these aggressive acts are most common in the warmest season and least
common in the coldest seasons.
Frustration: Aggression Hypothesis: Does the Research Support it? + Next Slide
In the last 80s, Burkowitz proposed a revision to the theory, stating that frustration is one of
the many emotions that could lead to aggression. He suggested that the precursor to
aggression is some kind of negative feeling, but there are other feelings like this other than
frustration. It is this negative feeling that leads to aggression.
Influences on Aggression
Intensity of emotional arousal is a key determinant in whether aggression occurs or not.
Example: the experiment described earlier in class with one group crossing a swinging bridge and another corssing a stable one. Anxiety felt was transferred to sexual arousal
towards the experimentor.
When there is a mismatch between the intensity of the event and the intensity of the