PSY 306 Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Dani People, Heritability, Impulsivity

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Class 15: Aggression
What is it?
Aggression: intentional behavior aimed at doing harm or causing
pain to another person
Alternative: injurious behavior + social label
Why is it bad?
Unpredictable
Uncontrollable
Grave consequences
Aggression is an efficient form of evoking fear
Media over-reporting of crime
Why do we do
it?
Biological
Evolutionary usefulness
Genetic heritability (Fairbank monkeys)
Hormones and neurotransmitters
Testosterone <-(+)-> aggression
Serotonin <-(-)-> impulsivity
Generatics and Hormones Redux
Confounded with early environment and social support
Inter- and intra- cultural differences
Quakers in the US
Dugum Dani vs. Tahitians in New Guinea
Change over time
Cultures change over time and slowly evolve into less aggression
Ex: Sweden hasn’t been in a war since defeat by Russia in the
Great Northern War in the 18th century
Regional Differences
People in different areas of the world can have different levels of
aggression due to
Ex: people in the south have a culture of honor because
stealing cattle was easier than stealing crops (northern)
Is it really biological?
Perhaps partly, but aggression is also strongly influenced by
situational, historical, and cultural factors
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