DEFINITION: “Aggression is any form of behaviour directed toward the goal of harming
or infuring another living being who is motivated to avoid such treatment”
Not aggression if other person isn’t motivated to avoid treatment (masocism)
- Aggression is in our nature & nurture: “a false debate!”
Aggression is Inborn
- Aggressive instinct (McDougall): humans have 18 instincts that drive us to our
- Does not explain what an instinct is.
- Death instinct, “Thanatos” (Freud): 2 instincts – drive to destroy an organism, attacks
others to ‘bring them to nothing’
- Hydraulic theory: Unexpressed emotions build up pressure which must be expressed to
relieve that pressure (like water in a container).
Evolutionary perspective of aggression:
- Human warfare originated in attempts to obtain valuable resources
- Women; to make sure their children would survive
- Emphasizing genetic survival
- Gender differences in patterns of mate selection
- Study of sexual jealousy
Biochemical & neural influences on aggression:
- Amygdala, an area in the core of the brain, is associated with aggressive behaiour
- Testosterone is associated with aggression (high levels)
- Serotonin is associated with aggression (low levels)
Studies on Aggression
- Observation of & experimentation with species other than humans
- Zing Yang Kuo’s (1961) experiment: raising a kitten in the same cage with a rat,
will the car chase other rats or this rat when it is grown?
Didn’t chase this rat or other rats – argues NOT inborn
Criticized: just provided a situation where you have learned not to be
aggressive, doesn’t mean it isn’t inborn.
- Eibl-Eibesfeldt’s (1963): raising rats in isolation – rat becomes aggressive when
new organisms introduced to environment, however this does NOT show that
aggression is inborn.
- Konard Lorenz’s (1966) observtaion of the behaviours of cichlids, highly
Do not attack other fish, do not attack female cichlids – only target other male
Removed all male cichlids from the environment & left females & other fish:
eventually the male cichlid started attack