Psych 2C03 – Oct 16
Theories of Aggression – social relevance: how do we get people less aggressive?
Definitions + lecture outline
- What is aggression? You intend harm as a result against some people, harm is physical or emotional or
Ex) how long, how many times do they press the shock generator? (Physical harm)
Ex2) As a result of aggression by some person, she killed herself (emotional harm)
- Gender difference in aggression? If so, why?
- How rational is aggression? Can we control aggressive responses? Is aggression rational response?
Gender differences – evolutionary perspective:
1) Large gender differences in physical aggression
- Homicide rates comparing men vs. men/ women – women - men are far more likely to engage in
homicide than women
- Men 40 times (huge) more likely to engages in same sex homicide. Why? vary
- Women rare but usually their daughter
2) Why would males be more physically aggressive than females?
- Due to gender differences in reproductive biology; ‘mating’ – reproductive success, you live to
- Different mating strategy: man (quantity): replenish-able sperms, easy, lower investment
- Woman (quality): expensive investment, lactating.. you are forced to spent your life time for having a
baby => therefore, Woman are quite choosy
- Man engage in competition for choosy mates: winner usually gets female (non-human)
- Successful man = biggest strong = aggressive behaviors = going to survive in males => even stronger
- Being aggressive seems aided in man general, for reproductive success; this is why man are more
aggressive than woman
- Due to Sexual dimorphism: gender is different in terms of physiology; males have more testosterone
- Testosterone have identified as a hormone associated with aggression and dominance in competition
Ex) studies of prisoner in males and females – males tends to have higher level of testosterone
- Winning increase testosterone, losing competition decrease testosterone=> associate with competition - Competition is not always aggression related; wrestling..
3) Gender differences in relational/ reputational aggression: gossip (being mean)
- woman are far more likely engage in relational/reputational aggression (reverse man’s physical
- Why? biologically, females are forced to choose very wisely, they have to find best and very possible
- You find him, you have to fight against other woman; destroy other female’s reputation by making a
- you get to win by gossiping
- Maccoby & Jacklin (1974): review 20 articles = found significant difference in aggression across
gender, physically and verbally => but it is extremely small => it’s there, and we keep finding it
- also found significant difference in aggression across gender in different cultures
- Hyde meta-analysis: find articles on a given topic and, find data and put in one data set => come up
with statistical based opinion
- 75 different articles => there are very very small significant differences in aggression across gender;
men are physically more aggressive than women
- How does it interpreted? Gender difference is very ‘small’ between gender, but ‘huge’ within same
Overlapping distributions: men are significantly more physically aggressive than female
- Between genders = there is small significant difference of mean in male and female
- Within gender: wider distribution graph in female than male => more different among female then
between women and men => average aggressive female is far more aggressive than average
aggressive male! => more difference among women than between women and men or men and among
- Age was good predictor of gender difference in aggression: younger kids showing much bigger
difference of gender than university students (7 times bigger than kids under age 10)
- Why is it so big with kids and less big with adults? Method? With kids, we use unobtrusive method
such as field experiment; we just observe their behavior when they are playing around. In contrast,
with adults, we must bring them into the lab to observe their behavior.
- So when kids are being observed, they are not going to modify your behavior. However, when adults
are being observed, they tend to behave attentively because they know that someone is watching them.
- Observer bias? Condry & Ross (1985) - University students in labs to rate a video – two kids playing
violently in snow (snow suited, they don’t know their gender) => when subjects are told their gender is
boy-boy, boy-girl, girl –girl, or girl-boy. How will they rate their aggressiveness?
- Result: boy – boy < boy – girl < girl – girl < girl – boy - Why? Due to our expectation of how boys and girls should behave.. Boy-boys are always aggressive,
so it’s not aggressive! Girls should be less aggressive
- Boy’s aggression is minimized in our minds, but girl’s aggression is magnified in our minds (we don’t
expect that girls to be aggressive) => so actually, boy’s aggression might be bigger and smaller in girls
than we think
What will we see if we remove observer bias?
Implications of Condry & Ross data
- What size difference is usually found? Including observer bias (it is always there)
- What size difference might actually exist? (remove bias) males are more aggressive than we think they
are (bias minimizes male aggression), woman are less aggressive ( bias exaggerates female aggression)
- May exist subject bias too: male behave more aggressively because they know males are more
aggressive, and female behave less aggressively
- Gender difference may decrease in adults by culture difference and …
- Gender differences in aggression are likely due to gender differences in adaptive utility of aggression;
for males, physical aggression is adaptive because it can show females their aggression level. For
female, relational aggression is adaptive because it can prevent other female beating them
- Gender expectations lead to observer biases that might distort information on gender and aggression;
how we perceive, and how we behave. Or might distort cultural acceptance of aggression across
- Why do people aggress? Is aggression an uncontrollable, automatic, and unconscious?
- OR can we use rational thought to prevent aggressive responding? Do people decide to aggresse? we
just don’t do it, we make rational choice
To what extent is aggression a rational response?
The frustration-aggression hypothesis (Miller and Dollard, Yale group)
1) Original version: Frustration Aggression
- Frustration will always lead to aggression; if someone is aggressive, they have been frustrated, it is
completely non-rational response. The only reason is because they are frustrated. If you are frustrated,
you are trapped to way leading to aggression
Evidence? Heat and aggression
- They do have very personal relationship; being too hot is frustrating
Lab experiment: over-heated room => expression? More aggressive (expt) vs. nice temp room (control)
- People are given a chance to give electric shock to others => subject in over-heated room is going to
shock more severely than subject in nice room temp
- Being too hot makes you aggressive! - Also, animals with low heat tolerance => over heat =>a lot more aggressive than others in comfortable
- Riots: it usually happen in summer - hotter it is, more likely riots is to be escalated violent behavior
(over 90 degree, they become really violent). They appear to be pretty much generated some extent of
frustration of being too hot
- Baseball violence: gathered all information of 850 games – look at correlation between batters hit by
pitch and temperature - hitting the batters with ball (aggressive behavior) => pitching bad? => average
number of hitting batters goes up by 65% as temperature goes up (around 27-32) => they were hitting
batters more often when it is hotter
Field experiment, Kenrick & MacFarlane: horn honking &heat - Store the car on purpose, green light
– you are not going to move for entire green light (12seconds long). Look at people behind you, how
do they behave?
- First person behind: latency for start honking, duration of honking (how long), time spent for honking
= measuring aggression
- It has nothing to do with age, gender of passengers, how many people were behind them? But what
matters was if window is up or down
- Look at time spent on horn honking - 86-90 (30 degree) to 111-115(47 degree) – correlational-ly, time
spent honking increased as heat increased
- Results: When they had AC, so windows were up => no correlation (zero)
When windows were down => Correlation 0.76 (huge correlation) – really really really hot
- Heat was frustrating them and being trapped, => more aggressive
- If temp is above 100, 34% of subjects who used the horns, lean on their horn for more than 6 seconds
=> really aggressive
- If temp below 90, zero percent spent few second leaning on the horn
- Being really really hot really annoying people!
Evidence? Pain and aggression
- Pain is really frustrating
Non-human animal literature –electrocutes rats or mice and then cause them pain (frustrating)=>
being more aggressive =more attacking behavior
Human literature: pain(chronic) patients vs. non -chronic patients => chronic patients engage in more
Berkowitz et al.(1981): someone is going to come up with solutions of business problem and subject
will rate the solution
- IV: Pain (put their hands in bowl of warm or ice water) – how tactile stimulation affects the response?
- DV: mean number of rewards/ punishments - Reward => giving tokens worth 5 cents vs. punishments => making noise to person solving problems
Subjects in warm water showed strong preference of giving a rewards than punishments
- Subjects in ice water still give out more rewards than punishments but fewer numbers of rewards and
more punishments => they get kinds of mean, they don’t give out more reward. They were frustrated,
so they were more aggressing in that situation (hands in cold water bucket)
But… effects of rational thought #1
- Can you control your aggression?
- Justification affects extent to which frustrating events produce anger; know why aggressive thing
happens – we don’t feel as angry and show as much of aggression
- Ex) catching a bus from corner of the street => bus driver kept looking at me but kept going => no
reason of her doing that, the bus was in the service, people were on the bus, => I was very annoyed.
But justifying frustrating event => you cannot get your body into the bus, it is full (rational thought)
=> become less aggressive
- Pastore (1952): image these 16 scenarios happen to you, and rate you anger. How would you feel in
- IV: Frustrating event is justified vs. unjustified
- DV: Self-rated anger (1-to 5); anger is not perfect predictor of aggression( we are not measuring
aggression here, just emotional anger)
- Results: will justifying frustrating event produce less aggression?
justified – slightly angry
unjustified – really really angry
- Interpretation: using rational thought to interrupt angry response => can modify your anger and maybe
- This type of process work for both female and male, even though there is gender difference
- Knowing what frustrated you can affect your aggressive responses!; it is controllable
Effects of rational thought #2
- Intent affects response to frustrating events
- Ohbuchi & Kambara (1985): Response depends on intending behavior – learning task (teacher/learner
paradigm), taking turn but subject always will be a learner first. While they are doing a task, subject
overhears what teacher says
- IV: Confederate’s intent to harm subject vs. no harm. Actual harm done to subject; How much shock?
(weak vs. strong)
- What matters more? Your understanding of what person meant (rational process)? or what they
actually did? - DV: retaliatory aggression (shock intensity)
Confederate didn’t intend to harm them (strong vs. weak): they were not really aggressive; very
much low intensity of shock by subjects => there is no significant difference in two bars
Confederate did intend to harm (strong vs. weak): they were significantly more aggressive;
increased intensity by subjects
- Even if confederate hurt them with no intention, they don’t retaliate this person ‘they might don’t
know how much pain I get’=> You are making rational thinking
- Interpretation? Doesn’t really do with how much pain stimulation you are getting back, it’s in fact that
‘why am I getting this much pain?’
Effects of rational thought #3
- Mitigating info affects intensity of aggressive response; ‘apology’ sorry for hurting you or
‘justification’ of it was right things to do save you. I did something really bad but I couldn’t have done
- Explaining what intend was => forgiving them
- Getting information are likely to affect the response of aggression
- Krener &Stephens (1983):
- IV: some subject is insulted by Research Assistant 1 and some are not. Mitigating (why RA1 is jerk or
not) info by RA2
- When they have chance to be aggressive, what do they do?
- DV: aggression against C (shock intensity to learner who insulted experimenter)
Control group (no insulting): low shock intensity
No mitigating info group (insulting): increase intensity (you wouldn’t care)
Mitigating info: significantly lowers your aggressive responding (lower intensity) but still higher
than control group
- Interpretation: not completely controllable but getting a mitigating information was good enough to
lower aggressive responding
- Getting some information you can think about, allow you to modify your aggression
Effects of rational thought #4
What if rational thinking compromised? What if your judgment is taken away from you? What if you are drunk?
- Does compromised judgment affect reactions to frustration?
- Taylor&Gammon : Alcohol experiment set up: subject writing an essay, and they think someone else is
writing an essay in next room (a+ essay) => they exchange their essay - IV1: taste Test; drinking. IV2: receive C’s rating
- DV: Rate C’s essay by different shock levels; 9 shocks – worst essay, 1- fabulous essay
- Results: did you get 1 shock or 9 shock? R u sober or drunk?
Subject with their essay rated really good, so not frustrating (sober vs. drunk) => whether you are
drunk or sober, rating is very positive (it is already good essay) => give out 1 or 2 level of shock
Subject with their essay rated really bad, so frustrating (sober vs. drunk) => If you are sober, there
is significant increase in a shock level. If you are drunk => give 9 shocks! I don’t care whether
essay is good, I will give them a shock (emotional, psychological aggression; shock is not painful)
- Interpretation? When you are judgment is taken away because you are drunk, you become significantly
more aggressive because you cannot modify your aggressive responding by rational thinking
- Aggressive responding is really automatic when your judgment is taken away => you cannot stop
- These drunk people can’t really do rational thinking
Revised F-A hypothesis
- Frustrating experiences => negative feelings => aggression
- But rational thought can interrupt this; could stop you aggressing, or from negative feeling
- Somewhere in there, it is changing
Frustration isn’t necessary!
- Structure of information in long term memory; spreading activation
- Spreading activation – way we store our information in memory make evolves making links between
semantic ideas => Prime that affecting way of your thinking
- Ex) Gun => somewhere in your long term memory, spreading activation network, is being activated
- Things that associated with aggression cause you to be aggressive
- Associationist perspective; are these cues such as gun associate with aggression?
- With aggressive cues, people become more aggressive; aggressive cues can activate aggressive ideas
and emotions and thereby cause aggressive responding!
- Berkowits (1965) – cover story: how electric shock affect learning (learning/shock paradigm)
- Subject is a teacher and confederate is learner
- When they were about to start the task, shock generator is broken. So while they are dealing with
technical difficulty, ask participants to join pilot experiment; how people react to film clip
- Seen really violent film => and rate it => and then technical problem is solved => task start now
- IV: Confed’s name – Kirk vs. not Kirk - DV: shock intensity
Kirk – got shock with higher intensity than not Kirk
- Just name ‘Kirk’is associated with violence ( either Kirk is beat or beat)
- No one has been frustrated here! But they are being aggressive based on association with name of
More research evidence: the weapons effect
- Gun: aggressive cue against people
- Presence of weapons can affect aggression?
- IV: frustration (half them are frustrated, half them are not frustrated). Presence of aggressive cues
(badminton rocket which is non-aggressive cue or gun which is aggressive cue)
- DV: aggression (shock intensity)
- Results: will presence of aggressive cue leads to aggression?
Badminton racquet (frustrated vs. not frustrated): significantly higher shock intensity when they
are frustrated but low when they are not frustrate.
Gun (frustrated vs. not frustrated): more aggressive when they are not frustrated, more aggressive
Doesn’t matter what was your initial aggression level, presence of gun still raises aggression level!
Revised F-A hypothesis (again)
- Aggressive cues affect negative feelings(anger)/ aggression responding
Theory of excitation transfer (based on arousal)
- Background: Arousal intensifies affective and behavioral response, and impedes rational thought.
Therefore, frustration leads to aggression because unpleasant experiences raise arousal (rather than
- Too high level of arousal to think clearly => screw up your tasks
- Arousal level increase as frustration increase
- Excitation transfer: arousal can be transferred from one source to something else very easily (you get
home, you yell out to your wife, and her arousal level increase, she yells out to her dog….)
Ex) During exams period, you misinterprete your arousal and get angry on your roommate; you are
transferring your arousal to anger on your roommate
- Therefore, arousal unrelated to frustration or aggressive cues can result in exaggerated anger and
How to test? - Manipulation arousal level: they will behave differently compared to low level of arousal
- Teacher/leaner task: teacher will be testing confederate on a film the C has already watched
- They never meet in person, but they do meet in intercom
- They are told that other subject had seen the film, so ask questions to learner
- And then they are given shock generator to shock other subject every time when other subjects gives
- Teaching/learning works better with relationship between teacher and learner, so teacher is given
structured intercom conversation.
- Structured 12 opinions of teacher – disagree or agree by learner
- IV: arousal – neutral film (not raising anyone’s arousal level), violent film, erotic film
- DV: shock intensity to punish learner
- Results: what types of shock intensity people willing to give?
Neutral film – just gentle documentary
Violent film (champion boxing) – aggressive responding goes up significantly (painful shock
intensity button); does raise arousal level and it does contain aggressive cues
Erotic (having sex) – raises aggressive responding significantly (nothing aggressive cues
happening in the film, it is just video of having sex), but it raises aggressiveness
- Something more than aggression associate with arousal level!
Aggressive responding over time 15:40
- First three wrong, next three wrong, blocks of three shock trials increase => increase shock intensity
- Why? They become more aggressive with more wrong answers (extra arousal)
Revised F-A hypothesis (Again!!)
- Arousal can enhance negative feelings and aggression response!
- Aggression has both rational and irrational components: aggressive cues might lead you to be more
aggressive, arousal (very irrational process, uncontrollable)
- It is pretty irrational but we are punching with rational thought too
- When studying, think about
- What do results of experiment tell me? rd
Psych 2C03 – Oct 23
Pro-social behavior – can this be called altruism?
Altruism: giving someone else help for no hopeful reward or recognition, just helping people and you are not
- Helping someone else is actually helping myself; when you help someone else, you are doing
something nice for yourself. No matter how we look at it, people who help others will inevitably get
reward such as good feeling..
- Pro-social behavior (self-oriented help): it is type of behavior that has positive consequences socially;
helping someone else
- Altruism: helping someone else for no possible benefit itself; nothing exchanges for help
Pro-social behavior Evolutionary Perspective
- Things evolved if adapted; your gene is engage in this behavior is more likely to survive
- Kin selection: help people we are related to => copying our genes; we should be more likely to help
people who have copies of our genes than who don’t. we should not risk our life for people who are
not related to us
- Reciprocation of pro-social behaviors: you will help people if you are in small group because you can
expect them to help you back. Helper is obvious, non-helper obvious. Non-kin or kin, especially ‘no-
kin’ who reciprocate the favors are more likely to survive
1) Kin selection
- Gene is in charge of everything=> organizing our behavior that will benefit them maximally
- Self-gene tell us to help people who have some of our gene; their survival keep our gene survive as
- Inclusive fitness: our fitness is included in others fitness. Our gene tends to benefit from survival. Our
selfish gene protecting themselves
Ex) mommy lion carries only their kids.
- Whose genes should be preserved? People who are more related to us
- More gene shared = more helpful
- You risk your life to rescue 3 people who share 50% gene with you, how many copies of your gene
will you save?
Gender: males are far more valuable for reproduction; male can have more babies than females.
Which means, they have more copies of gene
Age: older female=> useless (from reproductive point). Too young female => too young to
reproduce=> no point of saving you (10 vs. 18 year old – saving 18 year old is more valuable)
- Behind implicitly of our understanding of helping others, saving someone who has copies of their gene
is selfish. - Does the average person behave as though they know this?
- Carnegie foundation: One thing they will not reward is someone who does something to save their
family => they are expected to do that, so they are not rewarded. Helping others who are not related
will be rewarded
Ex) fire in house: cat only can carry their kids one at a time, she moved back and forth to save them
and she was successful and she died. It seems as instinct but is selfish things..! We are adapted to save
their copies of same gene
Burnstein, Crandall & Kitayama: scenario study
- Told stories to subject in which someone needs help. They choose among possible recipients; one of
them they can help, but not two others
- You circle you will save
- IV: type of scenario – everyday(moving boxes)/ life or death
- IV2: Kinship
- DV: Ss indicate targets they are most and least likely to help ‘likelihood of helping’index
In everyday situation, we are more likely to help people more related to us.
In life or death situation, it becomes much stronger! We have to save people who has copies of our
gene (biological imperative) – this result is significantly different from everyday situation
Effects of Age of target on helping
- You are aware of their ages, your responses about age,
- We tend to help younger people who can be reproductive successfully in the future
- Younger people are slightly more likely to get help but older people don’t (it is not significant)
Helping during a hypothesized famine – what if helping someone may not save them?
- Horrible famine and you don’t know when famine will be last => who do you help?
- Infants: don’t get help. why? giving the infants extra foods => takes more than 10 years until they get
old enough to be reproductive => they might die within less than 10 years
- 10 -18 year old people: do get help => you save them because they can live long enough to reproduce
(they are already at reproductive age)
- People go with their instinct to save people who have copies of their genes.
- Reciprocal altruism:
Ex) ground squirrel giving an ‘warning call’– give an alarm to avoid from predator => he is risking his
life for a lot of unrelated others. => so next time, someone will give you an warning call in return =>
more likely to survive - In human society, people know if you did help or you didn’t. But if people doesn’t know if you did or
didn’t, there is no point of giving help to others. Therefore, we expect that people in small towns are
more likely to help non-kin than in very large cities; people in small towns are more helpful.
- Ex1) Lost letters – See how many lost letters we get back => in small town vs. in large cities. people in
small towns are more likely to help with a letter on the ground
- Ex2) Surveys: people in small town are more willing to fill out the survey than in big city
- Ex3) Wrong numbers: more likely to related in wrong phone call ‘it’s my last dime, would call
someone and give msg to them?’
- Why? they are more identifiable, expecting reciprocation
ex) shuttle bus, only few people take this => left DVD on the bus => 3 days later => someone returned
it ( in a big city, shuttle bus is a small community => i will reciprocate)
Social psychology: is there such thing like altruism? Not selfish?
Social exchange theory: ‘if we get out self in the situation where someone needs help, we do call cost-benefit
- Cost-benefit analysis: what are the pros and cons of helping? If pros>cons = helping, if pros Confederate 2 trips over on scary muscle guy feet => will subject help confederate 2?
- Confederate 3 – ask scary muscle guy if this train goes to down town or uptown and he gives wrong
answer. => will you help subject?
- IV: cost of helping; reaction of muscle guy (no reaction, insult or threat)
- DV: % Ss helping
No reaction: does not increase cost of helping a guy from muscle guy; 50% helping
Insulting: increase cost of helping – 20% helping (they actually get into physical argument)
Threating : increase cost of helping – 10 % helping
Very clearly patter; as cost of helping goes up, likely hood of helping goes down
- It is very human type of consideration, when you get the chance to help, you must decide whether to
help or not
- The altruism debate: does ‘pure’altruism exist?
- Empathy-altruism (pure) vs. negative-state relief model (cost-benefit analysis)
E.A: ‘Pure altruism’ exists! Motivation of state with alternate goal of increasing someone else’s welfare and this
altruism is based on empathy (empathy: other oriented emotional responses by someone in need. if focus on
someone else’s suffer, feel this empathy and you will help someone else with no gain to self at all.)
N.A: no pure altruism! When we help people, we help as a result of cost-benefit analysis, I which we expect
helping that person will us feel better. So just doing someone’s favor make us feel good. We help in order to
relieve negative state and feel good (here, one benefit = feeling good)
1) Empathy- Altruism research
- Eisenberg/miller: look at the effect of empathy has on helping. we induce empathy on subject by
simply asking people to focus on how someone would feel
- As a result, they found out that inducing empathy predicted more helping. Their help was nicer and
more helpful. People seem less engage in cost and benefit analysis whey had induced empathy.
- Sibicky et al.: subjects in the lab, learning/shock paradigm. Leaner is always confederate,
observer/helper is subject (they a