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Chapter 9

PSYC 1002 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: The Human Instinct, Social Learning Theory, Sympathetic Nervous System

Course Code
PSYC 1002
Mara Fuentes Avila

of 11
Social Psychology Chapter 9: Aggression
What is Aggression?
-Aggression: this is physical or verbal behaviour intended to cause harm
-Hostile Aggression: aggression that comes from anger, its goal is to injure ex. Murders
-Instrumental Aggression: aggression that is a means to some other end ex. Terrorism,
they have a strategic goal
What are some Theories of Aggression?
1. Aggression As a Biological Phenomenon
-Rousseau blamed society not human nature for social evils
-Hobbes saw society’s laws as necessary to restrain and control the human brute
-Freud saw the brutish view that aggressive drive is inevitable
Instinct Theory and Evolutionary Psychology
-Freud said that human aggression comes from a self-destruction impulse (death
-Lorenz saw aggression as adaptive rather than self-destructive
oFreud and Lorenz both agreed that aggressive energy is instinct
- This theory fell a part because they just kept on naming any behavior an instinct ex. If
sheep stayed together then they say they have the herding instinct
-Instinct theory fails to account for variations in aggression, from person to person and
culture to culture
oEx. How would a share human instinct for aggression explain the difference
between the peaceful Iroquois before Whites cam and the hostile ones after the
-From an evolutionary standpoint Buss and Shackleford found aggression adaptive for
gaining resources, defending against attack
oThe adaptive value of aggression helps explain the high levels of male-male
aggression across human history
Neural Influences
- After receiving painless electrical stimulation in amygdala the person became angry and
smashed a guitar
- Prefrontal cortex was 14% less active than normal in murderers
- Brain is 15% smaller in brains of antisocial men
- Abnormal brains can contribute to abnormally aggressive behavior
Genetic Influence
- Lagerspetz breek aggressive mice 26 times and docile mice 26 times and ended up
getting an extremely aggressive mice and a very docile mice
-Temperaments: how intense and reactive we are, are brought to us into the world and
influenced by our Sympathetic nervous system reactivity
- A person’s temperament in childhood usually endures
Biochemical Influences
- Alcohol unleashes aggression when people are provoked
oWhen asked to think back on relationships conflicts intoxicated people gave
stronger shocks and felt angrier than sober people
o65% of homicide cases, 55% of assaults the assailant or vicitim was drinking
oIf you stop your drinking after treatment, violent behavior ceases as well
- Alcohol enhances aggressiveness by reducing people’s self-awareness by focusing their
attention on a provocation
- Human aggressiveness does correlate with testosterone
oDrugs that lower testosterone will lower aggression
oAfter reaching 25, people’s testosterone and rate of crimes decrease
oTestosterone levels are higher in people of convicted criminals of planned and
unprovoked crimes than people who did nonviolent crimes
oTeenagers with high testosterone are prone to delinquency
oMen with wide faces have more aggression
Low Serotonin
- Low serotonin is found among violence-prone children and adults
- Lowering a person’s serotonin will increase their response to aversive events and
willingness to deliver supposed electric shocks
Interaction between Biology and Behavior
- Testosterone may facilitate dominance and aggressiveness or a dominating behavior
can boost testosterone levels
- After games the testosterone levels rise in the winning fans and fall in the losing fans
and this is why winning fans are more likely to do assaults
Aggressions as a Response to Frustration
-Frustration Aggression Hypothesis: this says that frustration triggers a readiness to
be aggressive
-Frustration: anything that blocks your attainment of a goal
-Displacement: redirection of aggression to a target other than the source of frustration
oDisplaced aggression is most likely when the target shares some similarity to the
instigator and does some minor irritating act that releases the displaced
- Experiment Vasquez provoked university students but not others by having an
experimenter insult their performance on anagram solving test
oAfterward students had to decide how long a person should put their hand in cold
oIf the person received trivial offence from person then they said to put their hand
in longer in the cold water
Frustration Aggression Theory Revised
- Lab results produced mixed results of frustration aggression theory
-Berkowitz theorized that frustration produces anger, an emotional readiness to aggress
-Anger rises when someone who frustrates us could have chosen to act otherwise
- Frustration comes from the gap between expectations and attainments
Relative Deprivation
-Relative Deprivation: the perception that one is less well off than others to whom one
compares themselves to
Aggression as Learned Social Behavior
The Rewards of Aggression
- A child whose aggressive acts successfully intimidate other children will likely make the
child more aggressive
- Aggression is need to achieve rewards ex. Somali pirates
Observational Learning
-Social Learning Theory: we learn social behavior by observing and imitating and by
being rewarded and punished
The Family
- Physically aggressive children tend to have physically punitive parents, their parents
modelled aggression by disciplining them with screaming, beating