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Lecture 21 Notes

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Ingrid L.Stefanovic

Lecture 21 Aggression Aggression Intentional behavior aimed at causing physical or psychological pain Two dimensions of classification: o Type of pain Physical aggression aggression inflicting physical pain Verbal or relational aggression saying or doing psychological hurtful things o Goal of pain We make a distinction between hostile and instrumental aggression Hostile Aggression: Aggressive behavior that stems from feelings of anger and has the goal of inflicting pain Instrumental Aggression: Aggressive behavior that inflicts pain and the pain is a middle step toward another goal (not always negative) Approaches to Aggression Why do people do it? o I was born that way Genetic predisposition o The booze made me do it Chemical influence o I was having a bad day Frustration-aggression theory o Too much violence in the media Social learning theory Genetic Predisposition o Basic theoretical premise: aggression is adaptive and has survival value o Earliest evidence: animals can be bred for aggression (Rottweilers). Twin studies find high heritability for aggression. o Amygdala stimulating amygdala can lead to aggression. Depends on context (emphasizes that there is an interaction between neuro and social context) Sometimes leads to withdrawalfear (in a context where you probably wont win a fight) Relative social status matters o Pre-frontal Cortex PFC may be the regulator of aggressive impulses Generally involved in planning & behavioural regulation Relation of PFC and aggression: Murderers have less PFC activity than normal controls PFC becomes activated when contemplating an aggressive act o Testosterone The steroid hormone testosterone may increase aggression Greater exposure to testosterone in womb linked to aggression Although injecting testosterone does not increase aggression Testosterone-aggression is weak effect, r=.14
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