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Lecture 12

PSY 2501 Lecture 12: Aggression Handout 1 Social 2017

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PSY 2501
Lori Nelson

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY HANDOUT: AGGRESSION (PART 1) Dr. Lori J. Nelson Social psychology research on aggression Why are people aggressive? What situations cause aggression? Why are some people more aggressive than others? Focus on physical aggression Nature vs. nurture controversy • Old controversy • Freud: Death instinct (thanatos) --> hostility, destructiveness Civilization keeps in check • Rousseau: Born good and harmless, but society causes aggression • Skinner: Environment is most important-- experience with rewards and punishments • Some evidence for each • Many reasons for aggression Types of aggression (1) Proactive instrumental aggression Deliberate, calculated Example: Bullying to steal lunch money Controlled cognitive processes (2) Reactive hostile aggression “Gut level” reaction Example: Lashing out when frustrated Automatic cognitive processes External rewards for aggression • Potential positive consequences of aggression – Attention – Respect from peers – Control over others – Money, candy, toys, etc. • External rewards (and observational learning) are important in explaining proactive aggression in kids (Dodge et al., 1997) Internal rewards for aggression • Feeling of power, control • “Rush” • Self-expression Situations that cause aggression: Discomfort • Physical pain • Crowding • Heat (air temperature) Heat and aggression Heat  Hostile feelings Aggressive thoughts Research: Hot weather & violent crime Situations that cause aggression: Observing aggression Social cognitive theory: Aggression is learned from observing others • Imitation-- copying others—peers, media, parents, etc. • Observational learning-- notice consequences of others’ aggression • TV, movies, family members, peers • Also: Toys can provide aggressive cues Bandura’s bobo doll studies • Bobo doll as target of aggression • Children watched film of adult attacking Bobo doll in specific ways • Three different versions of film ending – No consequences – Rewarded/praised – Punished/criticized • Results: less aggression being punished and more in praise • See video Adult aggression: Effects of publicized executions (Phillips, 1980) • Observational learning-- note consequences of others’ aggression • Effects of observing punishment of murderer • Archival, correlational studies • Complication: Execution is aggression also-- could produce imitation • Publicized executions in London 1858-1921 – Good records of executions and murder rate – Publicity in London newspaper The Times – Column inches = amount of publicity – Public could attend • Results & interpretation Effects of TV violence • Experiments and longitudinal studies • Does cause some people to behave more aggressively • Imitation of admired characters, heroes • Especially if violence is rewarded or used as successful solution Review of media violence research (Anderson et al. 2003) Short-term increases in aggression – Priming aggressive thoughts – Increasing physiological arousal – Imitation (esp. kids) Long-term increases in aggression – Aggressive scripts (“cool” criminal, aggressive hero, saving honor, etc.) – Belief that aggression is appropriate behavior – Desensitization • Decreased abhorrence of violence • Decreased sympathy for victims Review of video game violence research (Anderson & Bushman, 2001) Violent video games increase aggression –Children –Young adults –Males and females Exposure to violent video games –Increases physiological
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