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Lecture 10

PSYB10 Lecture 10 Summary

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Elizabeth Page- Gould

AGGRESSION (CHAPTER 11) - Aggression o An intentional behaviour aimed at causing physical or psychological pain or harm  Aggression is an intentional behaviour that caused the pain  Whether or not a harmful action succeeds o Two dimensions of classification:  Type of pain  The outcome of the intention  Goal of pain  An intentional is a goal o Type of pain  Physical aggression  Aggression inflicting physical pain  You caused them the bodily and visceral experience of pain  This is physical pain to the person  Verbal or relational aggression  Saying or doing psychologically hurtful things  More of hurt feelings, hurt reputation or hurt status  This is emotional pain o Goal of pain  What is the goal of the aggression?  What is the goal of causing the physical or psychological pain?  Hostile aggression  The goal of the aggression is aimed at inflicting pain or injury o The pain is a means of the goal  Aggressive behaviour that o Stems from feelings of anger o Has the goal of inflicting pain  E.g., I want them to feel hurt for how much they hurt me  Instrumental aggression  The goal of the aggression is a means to some other goal besides causing pain o You know your behaviour will cause pain, but pain not the ultimate goal o You want something else, but you don’t care if you cause them pain in the meanwhile o You have another goal but in order to achieve it, you need to cause harm in the middle o Your aggression is an instrument of your goal and your goal is anything other than pain  Aggressive behaviour that o Inflicts pain o The pain is a middle step toward another goal  E.g., I don’t ever want them to do that to me again, so I want to make sure that they are punished sufficiently that they don’t treat me like that again - Approaches to aggression o Think about a time when you hurt someone else  Why did you do it? o Genetic predisposition (e.g., “I was born that way”)  Aggression is adaptive and has survival value  Earliest evidence to suggest there is genetic predisposition towards aggression:  Animals can be bred for aggression (e.g., breeding dogs) o We selectively breed different dog breeds to have different personality traits o If you can systemically breed a characteristic into an animal by mating the animals that showed that characteristic, then this suggests that there is some genetic predisposition to that characteristic, or else it wouldn’t matter if you breed the animals that showed the characteristic o It suggests that there is something about the combination of the two parents that allowed that trait to continue through the generations  Twin studies find high heritability for aggression o If the identical twins (share DNA) share their aggression traits more than fraternal twins (do not share DNA) do, then that suggests that there is a degree of genetic inheritance that is involved in the heritability of aggression  Neural structure  Amygdala o Stimulating the amygdala can lead to aggression  Amygdala is involved in defensive responding and aggressive behaviour o Depends on the context:  Sometimes leads to greater aggression and acting out  Sometimes leads to withdrawal or fear  Relative social status matters when the amygdala is stimulated  High social status in the presence of others shows more aggressive behaviour o If you think you can win, aggression is the most adaptive response  Low social status in the presence of others shows withdrawal and fear o If you don’t think you can win, withdrawal is the most adaptive response to get out of the situation  Prefrontal cortex o PFC may be involved with the regulation of aggressive impulses  Aggression does not originate in the PFC  Aggression is highly modulated by the PFC  PFC is generally involved in planning and behavioural regulation o Regulation of PFC and aggression:  Murderers have less PFC activity than normal controls  PFC becomes activated when contemplating an aggressive act  For most people, when you contemplate an aggressive act, you are also simultaneously activating mechanisms to choose the best course of action  E.g., down-regulating your aggression  Hormone  Testosterone o The sex steroid hormone testosterone may increase aggression o Smaller 2D:4D ratios correlate with greater exposure to androgens (pre-natal testosterone) while in the womb  For most people (men and women), the 2D:4D ratio is small  For men, the 2D:4D ratio is even smaller  The 2D:4D ratio stays constant across your lifespan o Smaller 2D:4D ratios correlate with aggression o But:  Injecting testosterone does not increase aggression  This suggests that testosterone alone cannot be the cause of aggression  Testosterone aggression has a small effect size (r = 0.14)  There still seems to be a correlation between the two  The effect is so small that most of us wouldn’t notice it in everyday life  Testosterone has a co-varying relationship with aggression, but not causal o The relationship is correlated, but highly variable  Neurotransmitter  Seratonin o The neurotransmitter serotonin may inhibit aggressive impulses  Serotonin is related to many aspects of experience  There are serotonin receptors in the PFC o Regulation of serotonin and aggression:  Violent criminals have less serotonin than normal people  Serotonin antagonists (blockers) shows an increase aggression  This removes the ability to down-regulate the aggressive impulses o Chemical influence (e.g., “The booze made me do it”)  Alcohol lowers or releases your inhibitions against acts of aggression  The strength of the relation between alcohol and aggress varies, depending on the person and the situation  E.g., if you are physically aggressive to begin with, then more likely to get into fights after drinking o Unless you aren’t going to hurt anyone normally when you drink  E.g., heavier guys are more likely to be aggressive when they have been drinking than lighter guys o Big guys are have a better chance of winning the fight  Alcohol disinhibits behaviour  Reduces self-consciousness (self-awareness) o Leads to deindividuation, which leads to increased aggressive activities  Reduces attention to consequences of actions  Relationship between alcohol and aggression:  In 65% of homicides and 55% of domestic violence, assailant and/or victim had been drinking o Alcohol was involved in a majority of these violent crimes  In lab studies comparing alcohol with placebo: o People give stronger shocks o Report more anger when thinking about conflict with romantic partner o Frustration-aggression theory (e.g., “I was having a bad day”)  Aggression stems from frustration  Frustration is the perception that you have been prevented from attaining a goal o This is goal frustration  Frustration increases the probably of an aggressive response  More aggressive when:  You are very close to achieving the goal o The closer the goal, the greater the expectation of attaining the goal is blocked o The greater the expectation, the more likely the aggression  Frustration (e.g., the block of the goal) is unexpected, intentional, or unjustified  Can’t retaliate against cause of frustration o You cannot unblock the goal  E.g., cutting in line in front of people  People standing behind are more aggressive when cutting into the second place in line  E.g., the Occupy movement in UC Davis  Goal is to move the protestors  Frustration when the protestors refuse to move  Aggression is used by the cops to achieve the goal o This is instrumental aggression o They are trying to inflict pain in order to get them to move  Critiques of frustration-aggression hypothesis  Not all aggression is the result of frustration o Environmental factors o Neo-associationism  Not all frustration leads to aggression o Learned helplessness o Environmental factors  The environment affects aggression  Pain affects aggression  If you are in pain, you tend to react more aggressively  Rats attack each other after being shocked  Participants blast each other with louder noise after hand submerged in ice water versus room temperature water  Heat affects aggression  Heat above 32°C invokes aggression o Neo-associationism  Aversive events (e.g., unpleasant and negatively valenced events):  Cause anger o E.g., pain causes anger  Concepts associated with anger in our mind become more accessible o E.g., after experiencing the aversive event  Facilitates anger-related concepts that are already in working memory o E.g., relative to concepts that are not activated  Aggressive stimuli triggers aggressive behaviour  The mere presence of an object associated with aggressive responses (e.g., gun) can increase the probability of aggression o Aggressive stimuli or objects act as aggressive cues  Aversive events activates anger, so then you have an aggressive stimulus that is associated with anger and you are very likely to act on that aggression because it was already accessible in your mind  Aggressive stimuli is any object associated with aggression o E.g., knife or gun is an aggressive stimulus  In our semantic network, we connect pain and aversive events with anger o It makes us very angry to feel pain o However, that anger is only going to parlay into aggression if an aggressive stimulus becomes co-activated and because the anger was already activated, then you are likely to become aggressive  The gun study  This task involved shocks o C shocks P  Either receive 1 shock (not aversive) or 7 shocks (aversive)  The shocks (the painful events) should activate anger o P shocks C o There were one of three objects next to the shock machine  No object, gun or badminton racket  This is the aggressive stimuli  If C shocked them more, then P shocks C more o The difference is amplified when there is an aggressive stimulus in the environment o If there is an aggressive stimulus, then you behave significantly more aggressively towards C, who has already behaved aggressively towards you  E.g., gun versus no object or racket o Relative deprivation  The perception that you have:  Less than you deserve  Less than what you have been led to expect  Less than what people similar to you have  E.g., policewomen experienced relative deprivation  They believed they were eluded from activities and opportunities available to policemen  E.g., immigrant’s credentials not recognized in Canada is associated relative deprivation  Problems getting credentials and work experience from their country to be recognized in Canada  Most of the participants were professionally trained, yet two-thirds had an income less than $20,000 o Social exclusion  The experience of being excluded from a group of strangers can provoke aggression o Social learning theory (e.g., “I did what anyone else would do” or “the violence was in the media”)  Vicarious learning  We learn solely through observation of other people’s reinforced and punished behaviour  No direct reinforcement or punishment  From the third person perspective  Social modelling of aggression  We learn aggression from observing others and imitating them o Modelling aggressive behaviour  Learning aggressive behaviour  Adoption of modelled behaviours are dependent on rewards and punishments observed o A social object is modelling a behaviour o You observe the reinforcements and punishments o You behave accordingly  Bobo doll experiment o Kids watched video tape of young adult behaving aggressively or neutrally o The adult was rewarded, punished or experienced no consequences for their behaviour  The adult is modelling the behaviour o The number of new aggressive acts by kids is dependent on adult’s consequences  E.g., If the aggression is contagious and not the behaviour, then kids should be creative with their aggression  Rewarded  high number of new aggressive acts (2)  We learn to solve conflicts aggressively by imitating adults when rewarded  Punished  low number of new aggressive acts (1)  No consequences  high number of new aggressive acts (2)  The lack of consequences are interpreted similar to reinforced behaviour  Implications o Family influence  Physically aggressive children are more likely to have physically punitive parents  There is a correlation between parents who believe in physical punishment (e.g., slapping and spanking) and aggression among the children among their peers  30% of physically abused kids grow up to abuse their own kids  This percentage is way higher than what you see in the normal population o Only a small percentage of children are physically abused o This shows that there is a much higher likelihood of physical abuse among previous victims of physical abuse  70% of children who are abused do not grow up to abuse their own kids  This shows evidence of how vicarious learning works on both sides o We might just model the behaviour of those that we’ve seen before, but because we’ve seen the negative consequences of that behaviour, we also can break free o You have a choice o Most people do not repeat that cycle o Media influence  Highly publicized suicides lead to greater incidence of suicides around the same time - Television and aggression o More television predicts aggressiveness in children  But mostly correlation studies! (e.g., there will be co-variance, but not cause) o Moderating factors  There are some things that make TV violence more or less related to aggression  Model similarity to the individual watching the show  The more similar the model, the more likely you are to model the behaviour  When the behaviour is violent, the more likely you are to show aggression  Punishment versus reward versus no consequences for the violent behaviour  This affects the relationship between TV violence and aggression  Apparent reality  Cartoons influences aggression much less than real world films o Cartoons are less real than people or actors  E.g., how real you perceive the TV media to be o News reports are perceived to be real o Fictional stories are more or less real  Apparent consequences  Modelling is more likely when pain or harm caused by violence is not depicted  When the TV focuses on the pain that the victim experiences, then people are less likely to mimic the behaviour that they have seen modelled o E.g., kicking a person, in which the person is calling out for help  When kicking a punching bag that doesn’t respond or you don’t see the victim’s facial expression, then people are more likely to model that behaviour o How does TV affect aggression?  Imparts information about how to aggress  E.g., I can think of various ways to kill somebody from watching TV  E.g., it helps you get more creative with your aggression  Primes anger  E.g., if TV sufficiently makes you angry, it can activate the aggressive behaviours  Makes world seem more dangerous and increases fear of victimization  Heavy viewers tend to overestimate frequency of violent crime and probability of being assaulted  E.g., the more violent TV you watch, the more you perceive the world around you as being a threatening place  E.g., if you think the world is dangerous and if you are threatened, then you are more likely to interpret an ambiguous stimulus as being dangers and maybe respond in an aggressive way to it  Loosens inhibitions toward acting with violence  E.g., people can become desensitized to violence through watching a lot of violent TV - Reducing aggression o Punishment  Punishment can act as a deterrent if two ideal conditions are met:  The punishment must be prompt and certain  The punishment must be unavoidable  These conditions are never met in the real world  The probability that a person who has committed a violent crime will be charged and convicted is low  The punishment is delayed by months or years  Consistency and certainty of punishment are more effective deterrents of violent behaviour than severe punishment  Severe punishment does not deter violent crimes  E.g., American states that invoke death penalty for murder o Catharsis  “Blowing off steam” by  Performing an aggressive act  Watching others engage in aggressive behaviour  Engaging in a fantasy of aggression  The notion that “blowing off steam”  Relieves built-up aggressive energies  Reduces the likelihood of further aggressive behaviour o Communication  We are born not knowing how to express anger constructively and non-violently  It is possible to expression anger in a non-violent and non-demeaning way  When feelings of anger are expressed in a clear and open manner, this can result in greater mutual understanding and strengthening the relationship  When we express our anger in positive and constructive ways (e.g., talking it over, expressing hurt feelings), this will have more beneficial effects o Apology  Apology and taking full responsibility is effective at reducing aggression  E.g., road rage can be decreased  Apologize by using emergency flashing lights o Social modelling of non-aggressive behaviour  Children witness the behaviour of adult models behaving non-aggressively when provoked  When the children were placed in a situation of being provoked, they showed less aggressive responses o Building empathy  Empathy decreases the urge to be aggressive  E.g., road rage can be decreased if drivers are made aware that they are capable of the same reckless mistakes  The participants made the mistake of cutting someone off before being cut off by another driver  The participants were more forgiving for the driver who cut them off PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOUR (CHAPTER 10) - Co-operative dilemmas o Situations where the most beneficial action for an individual will be harmful for the collective group  As an individual within a group, you have certain goals for your group and you have your own individual goals  Should I put myself first?  Should I put others first? o Escalation of conflict  Interpersonal conflict feeds itself and escalates if one side does not begin concession  E.g., escalation of conflict in close relationships  Partner A comes home and snaps at partner B  Partner B’s response: o An equally hurtful remark escalates conflict (most likely to occur)  Partner B is vindicated  Partner A feels compelled to respond with an equally hurtful remark o A defusing remark defuses conflict (less likely to occur)  Partner B accepts or accommodates partner A’s behaviour  Partner B has been hurt, but partner B is not going to hurt anyone back  Partner B does not get to indulge their hurt feelings  Partner A has no reason to say another hurtful remark  By one person to begin concession and not responding back, it ends the escalation of conflict  E.g., escalation of conflict in international relations  Country A accidentally bombs a civilian area of Country B during a training exercise o Country B’s response  Bomb them back escalates conflict  Country B is vindicated  Country B is at war with Country A  Accept apology defuses conflict  Country B takes a hit in many ways  Country B maintains peaceful relations with Country A  By responding in kind to the behaviour that we have received, it tends to escalate conflict, and then somebody has to actually pull out and not respond equally in order for conflict to deescalate o Tragedy of the commons  A co-operative dilemma that occurs in situations where everyone has access to a common pool of goods that will replenish naturally if used in moderation but disappear if overused  In these situations, people tend to take more than their fair share  Why do we take more than our fair share?  The tragedy of the commons is driven by our lack of estimating what is fair  Anchoring and adjustment heuristic o Desired share of the commons is used as an anchor  E.g., big bowl of mashed potatoes  When you get your share of the potatoes, you think how much do I want? o This is the anchor  Then you think everybody at the table is going to want some too  Then you take a little bit less than what you really want because you are trying
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