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Lecture March 21.docx

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Virginia K Walker

Aggression st March 21 , 2013 What is aggression? • Why does aggression occur? • When does aggression occur? • How can aggression be reduced? • Aggression • intentional behaviour aimed at causing either physical or psychological pain • Its not just being assertive • Intention is the key • Accidents, dental treatments • Hostile aggression • aggression stemming from feelings of anger and aimed at inflicting pain • Ex. Linebacker tackling blocker because he is angry at him and wants to cause him pain • Ex. Murders: arguments, brawls while under influence of alcohol, romantic triangles (intense feelings of anger and individual wants to cause pain to another person) • Instrumental aggression • aggression as a means to some goal other than causing pain • main goal is not to cause pain but to get to something you want • Ex. Linebacker tackling blocker in order to get to ball carrier • Ex. Terrorist acts- suicide bombers intent isn’t necessarily to inflict pain to others but to send a message • Ex. Violent acts of retribution and sexual coercion (i.e. rape may be about power or dominance) - i.e. acts of revenge Why does aggression occur? • Biological phenomenon • Instinct • Neural influences • Genetic influences • Biochemical influences • Response to frustration • Social learning phenomenon- we learn how to, when and how to aggress through social learning Biological: Instinct • Idea that aggression stems from instinct (within us all) • Sigmund Freud (1930) theorized that human beings are born with: • An instinct towards life and wealth, called Eros • A death or aggressive instinct, called Thanatos • Builds up and must be released or may cause illness • Society helps regulate and sublimate this energy • Problems • “explaining-by-naming” • Is universal among vertebrates, but is it instinctual? • Ex. Cats and rats • Ex. Rats raised in isolation • Does not necessarily mean it is instinctual because stimulus is external • Ex. Male cichlids • May be evidence of instinct • Aggression varies widely across cultures • European history is marked by frequent wars • In some cultures, acts of aggression are rare • the Efe (Democratic Republic of Congo) • Changes in social environment can produce changes in acts of aggression • Ex. The Iroquois • Aggression has survival value • Ex. Gaining resources, defending against attack, eliminating or intimidating rivals • Yet nearly all organisms seem to have evolved strong inhibitory mechanisms, enabling them to suppress aggression • Using aggression as means of survival and develop mechanism to inhibit/stop aggressive behaviour Biological: Neural Influences • Parts of brain involved in aggressive behaviour; influence aggressive behaviour • Amygdala • Processing stimuli (fear), social information and other emotional information • an area in the core of the brain that is associated with aggressive behavior • Ex. Amygdala stimulation in male monkeys- pairing one dominant and one submissive male monkey with each other • But, there is flexibility • Ex. Amygdala stimulation in male monkeys • Prefrontal cortex • Ex. Raine et al (1998, 2000, 2005, 2008) • Brain activity and amount of grey matter in men with antisocial conduct disorder • PFC 14% less active, 15% smaller • Influences neural system’s sensitivity to aggressive cues • Breeding for aggression • Ex. Guard dogs, attack dogs (aggressive behaviour genetic in nature) • Ex. Human infant temperament • Ex. Identical twins reared apart • Interaction between genes and environment • Ex. Caspi et al (2002), Moffit et al (2003) • Combination of gene that alters neurotransmitter balance AND childhood maltreatment Biological: Biochemical Influences • Alcohol • Enhances aggressiveness • Reduces self-awareness • Focuses attention on provocation • Mental association between alcohol and aggression • Lowers our threshold for aggressive behaviour • Interfere with our ability to consider the consequences of our actions • Biological: Biochemical Influences • Relationship even found among youth • Ex. Out of 1000 youths in middle adolescence • By grade 8 ~35% of boys and 25% of girls reported alcohol use • Both male and female bullies were ~5 times more likely to report alcohol use • May be a factor in dating violence • Ex. MacDonald, Zanna & Holmes (2000) • Serotonin • a chemical in the brain that may inhibit aggressive behaviours • Low levels associated with increased aggression • Ex. Laboratory studies • Ex. Humans and primates • Testosterone • a male sex hormone associated with aggression • Stronger impact in lower animals Frustration • Occurs when a person is thwarted on the way to an expected goal or gratification; you cannot reach particular goal for some reason • Frustration-aggression theory (Dollard et al. 1939) • People’s perception that they are being prevented from obtaining a goal will increase the probability of an aggressive response Frustration-Aggression Theory • Barker, Dembo & Lewin (1941) • Frustration condition • Young children shown room with attractive toys that were kept out of reach • Watched from behind a wire screen with the expectation they would play with them • After a long wait they were finally allowed to play with them • Control condition • Children allowed to play with the toys right away • Results • Control group played happily with the toys • Frustrated group were destructive • Ex. Smashed toys, stepped on them • Several factors increase frustration • Closeness to goal • Ex. Harris (1974) • Cutting into line • Frustration is unexpected • Ex. Kulik & Brown (1979) • Student tele-fund raisers • Do not need to aggress directly toward source of frustration • Frustration does not always produce aggression • Several factors affect whether frustration leads to aggressive behaviour • Size and strength of the person responsible for the frustration • Ability of the person who is responsible to retaliate • Whether the frustration is legitimate, understandable, and unintentional Simplified Frustration-Aggression Theory • Berkowitz (1978, 1989) • Frustration produces anger, an emotional readiness to aggress • What causes aggression is not deprivation • Gap between expectations and attainments • Ex. Marc Lepine • Relative deprivation, • the perception that you (or your group) have less than you deserve, less than
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