Social Psychology Exam Notes
Aggression-Any form of behaviour directed toward the goal of harming/ injuring another living
being who is motivated to avoid such treatment. E.g. Man shouts, swears and gives the finger to
another driver. Nature nurture debate is considered a false debate by social psychologists
Nature-Evolutionary basis says that stable biological causes that are present at birth cause
Nurture-we learn to be aggressive
Instinct Theory-McDougall 1908 said we have 18 instincts and 1 is the aggressive instinct, but,
he doesnt explain how it develops or how to avoid it.
Death Instinct-Freud 1930 said humans have 2 instincts; life instinct and death instinct. We
have a drive to live but a drive to bring us to nothing. First starting with ourselves and then
moving to others.
Hydraulic Theory-Unexpressed emotions build up pressure which must be expressed to relieve
that pressure. Healthy for us to express our aggression. Also by Freud.
Zing Yang Kuos 1960-Raise a kitten in the same cage as a rat. Cat did not chase or eat the rat
which is what is expected. Shows aggression is not inborn, however, critiques said that this
simply shows that animals can supress the instinct depending on the situation.
Eibl-Eibesfelts 1963-Raised rats in isolation until adulthood and then introduced another rat.
The isolated rat attacks the new rat using the same methods as other rats. Aggression is inborn
because the aggression was not learned, however, critiques say the rat reacts with aggression
because of a threat it is not spontaneous so does not show inborn.
Konard Larenzs 1966-Observe behaviour of cichilids, highly aggressive fish. In natural
environment they ignore other fish and female cichilids but fight with the males. Removing all
male fish except 1 then they begin to attack other fish. Removing all other fish and the males
eventually the single male attacks the females. Shows aggression is inborn in some animals.
Aggression is inborn
Evolutionary perspective-Human warfare originated in attempts to obtain valuable resources
such as territory, land and women. Genetic survival is more important than anything else so men
compete over healthy attractive women.
Safdor and Voracek 2001-Think of a serious or committed relationship and then think they are
interested in someone else. What would upset you more; if they have passionate sex with no
further contact or if there was emotional involvement but not sexual. Women think emotional
connection is more upsetting whereas men think sex is more upsetting (paternity issues). This
gender gap is closing though. Evolutionary perspective cannot explain why men/women choose
the opposite to expected choice.
Biochemical and neural influences-Amygdala, an area in the core of the brain associated with
aggression. This is dependent on the social environment; either dominant or non-dominant
species. Also testosterone, a sex hormone, associated with higher levels of aggression, more
testosterone more aggression. Sex crime offenders have high levels of testosterone but if you
inject a man with it there is no difference. Also serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is associated with
aggression when low, however, social factors do intervene.
Aggression is learned
Social learning theory-Occurrence of aggression depends on past experiences, current
reinforcement and social and cognitive factors regarding the appropriateness of such behaviours.
Aggression and self-esteem-Have inflated self-esteem so when challenged they respond with
aggression to their threatened ego. Regional Differences-warm and high places have higher aggression than cold countries. Cohen
and Co found that in southern states there is a higher level of aggression than northern states.
Students fill in a questionnaire, walk down a hall, pass a filing cabinet and hand it in.
Confederate calls them an asshole and slams the cabinet door. Southern states were more
aggressive in that they called names as well as threatened the confederate.
Situational influences on aggression
Frustration Aggression theory 1939-Freudian and Behaviourist ideas, frustration elicits the
motive to aggress and all aggression is caused by frustration.
-Catharsis is the displacement of aggression onto something else not the direct cause of the
Hovland and Sears 1940-Correlation of racial aggression (Black lynchings) to economic
security (price of cotton). Negative correlation meaning that low price of cotton which means no
jobs leads to frustration which led to the frustration being taken out as aggression on those with
less power; black people.
Miller and Bugelski 1948-Frustration increases negative attitudes towards minority groups.
Camp counsellors have their day off cancelled, their frustration is displaced onto a questionnaire
rating their opinions on minority groups.
Frustration-Aggression theory revisited-Situational cues are associated with aggression by
creating negative feeling which triggers aggression. The main differences are that situational
cues can be a trigger; perception of grievance can be a trigger and noxious stimuli (not just
Berkowitz and Lepage 1967-Weapons effect is that 1)guns on the table that belong to
confederate 2) guns that dont belong to the confederate 3) Badminton rackets (object not
associated with aggression) and 4) no objects. They wrote an essay and received either 1 or 7
shocks. Those who were angry gave more shocks to the confederate, the presence of a weapon
led to more shocks especially if the weapons were the confederates.
Model of human aggression-Eliciting condition (provocation, environmental stress) ->Negative
affect->immediate response (fight or flight) ->inhibition or investigation ->aggression.
-Aggression is based on predisposing variables such as social, subculture of violence, media).
Altruistic motivation-We care about the welfare of others.
Egoistic motivation-We care about ourselves
History-Strong assumption in psychology, political science, philosophy and economics of
universal egoism. Also Epictetus, a Greek Philosopher, said that every animal is not attached to
anything more than itself. We should thus see no altruistic behaviour because we only do things
that are in our own self-interest.
Silent Witness-Man drives around hunting for a woman to kill. He followed her home, stabbed
her repeatedly, offender ran away when someone told him to leave, but, he came back and
finished the job. Kitty Genovese was murdered a few feet from her home, eventually someone
called the police and Kitty died in the ambulance. Offender was caught a few days later trying to
rob a house (said he was helping someone move) and admitted to the burglaries and the murder
and said he knew no one could call the police. 38 people watched the murder and did not call the
police. Many said they didnt want to get involved, may have assumed someone else would call.
Alternate Analysis-There were only actually about half a dozen witnesses who saw the murder,
most probably thought it was just a couple fighting. Back then it was harder to call the police,
there were obstacles. Makes it a lot less gloomy.Cyclist in Toronto-Man pulls over and beats up a cyclist. She yelled for help but no one helped
her. No one moved to call the police or help her but they took pictures.
Sequential questions for helping-Darley and Latane came up with the idea that people must
notice the problem and go through a series of decisions before reacting.
-Must determine if there is a problem or if there is an emergency. The smoke test experiments
are an example. Pluralistic ignorance is when you think other people dont think it is an
emergency and thus dont react even though you think there is an emergency.
-Must decide if it is their responsibility to react. Diffusion of responsibility is that they do not act
because they assume someone else is responsible. An example is the case where they are writing
a quiz in a room and told that either 1 other person is writing it or several are and then you hear
someone choking. You are more likely to seek help if you are the only one.
-Must decide if you have the ability to help.
3 Fundamental forms of egoistic behaviour-
1)Gaining rewards-Genetic, monetary. Kinship selection benefits us by helping our family
because it ensures genetic survival. Burnstein et al 1994 found that the more genetic makeup we
share the more likely we help so we are not driven to help those who are not related to us,
however, we are less likely to help healthy people because they are more likely to reproduce,
most likely to help those who are sick.
-Reciprocity credit is when the other person owes us and we can take them up on the favour later
-Positive mood-Mood maintenance is that you want to keep your good mood e.g. we are more
likely to help on sunny days. Mood Enhancement is to get a good mood from helping others such
as being more likely to help a women collect papers if you think you have broken someones
2) Avoiding punishment-Fines/imprisonment-some laws say if you c