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Chapter 10

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PSYC 215
Donald Taylor

PSYC215 Chapter 10 Notes Definitions: Aggression: Physical or verbal behaviour intended to hurt someone Hostile Aggression: Aggression driven by anger and performed as an end in itself Instrumental Aggression: Aggression that is a means to some other end Instinctive Behaviour: An innate, unlearned behaviour pattern exhibited by all members of a species Frustration-aggression Theory: The theory that frustration triggers a readiness to aggress Frustration: The blocking of goal-directed behaviour Relative Deprivation: The perception that one is less well off than others to whom one compares oneself Social Learning Theory: The theory that we learn social behaviour by observing and imitating and by being rewarded and punished Catharsis: Emotional release. The catharsis view of aggression is that aggressive drive is reduced when one “releases” aggressive energy, either by acting aggressively or by fantasizing aggression Prosocial Behaviour: Positive, constructive, helpful social behaviour; the opposite of antisocial behaviour Social Script: Culturally provided mental instructions for how to act in various situations Chapter Notes:  Aggression is typically physical or verbal behaviour intended to cause harm which excludes unintentional harm, such as auto accidents or sidewalk collisions; it also excludes actions that may involve pain as an unavoidable side effect of helping someone  Aggression differs from assertiveness who are self-assured, energetic, and have a go-getting behaviour  Animals exhibit social aggression, characterized by displays of rage, and silent aggression, as when a predator stalks its prey. Social and silent aggression involve separate brain regions  In humans, psychologists label two types of aggression: o Hostile aggression: springs from anger; its goal is to injure, as an end in itself o Instrumental aggression: aims to injury too – but only as a means to some other end  Most terrorism is instrumental aggression. “What nearly all suicide terrorist campaigns have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal”  Most wars are an instrumental aggression. Hostile aggression is “hot”; instrumental aggression is “cool”  Most murders are hostile aggression due to arguments, romantic triangles, or from brawls while intoxicated. Such murders are impulsive, emotional outburst. Some murders and many other violent acts of retribution and sexual coercion are instrumental  Three big ideas in analyzing causes of hostile and instrumental aggression: o Biologically rooted aggressive drive:  First view blames society, not human nature, for social evils  Second view sees society’s laws as necessary to restrain and control the human brute  The “brutish” view in this century views that aggressive drive is inborn and thus inevitable – argued by Freud  Freud believes that human aggression springs from a self-destructive impulse. It redirects toward others the energy of a primitive death urge (the “death instinct”). Lorenz saw aggression as adaptive, rather than self-destructive. Both agreed that aggressive energy is instinctual (unlearned and universal). If not discharged, it supposedly builds up until it explodes or until an appropriate stimulus “release” it  The idea that aggression is an instinct collapsed as the list of supposed human instincts grew to include nearly every conceivable human behaviour. Instinct theory also fails to account for the variation in aggressiveness, from person to person and culture to culture  Our distinct ancestors found aggression adaptive. Aggressive behaviour was a strategy for gaining resources, defending against attack, intimidating or eliminating male rivals for females, and deterring mates from sexual infidelity. The adaptive value of aggression helps explain the relatively high levels of male- male aggression across human history  There are neural systems in both animals and humans that facilitate aggression. When scientists activate these regions, hostility increases; when they deactivate them, hostility decreases  Abnormal brains can contribute to abnormally aggressive behaviour  Heredity influences the neural sys’s sensitivity to aggressive cues. Human temperaments – how intense and reactive we are – are partly brought with us into the world, influenced by our sympathetic nervous system’s reactivity  The recipe for aggressive behaviour combines a gene that alters neurotransmitter balance with childhood maltreatment. Neither bad genes or bad environment alone predispose later aggressiveness and antisocial behaviour, rather, genes predispose some children to be more sensitive and responsive to maltreatment. Nature and nurture interact  Blood chemistry also influences neural sensitivity to aggressive stimulation  Alcohol enhances aggressiveness by reducing people’s self-awareness, and by reducing their ability to consider consequences, and by people’s mentally associating alcohol with aggression. Alcohol deindividuates, and it disinhibits  Hormonal influences appear much stronger in lower animals than in humans. But human aggressiveness does correlate with the male sex hormone, testosterone; higher testosterone does not mean more aggressiveness, but rather, lower testosterone = less aggressiveness  Low serotonin is often found in violence-prone children  Neural, genetic, and biochemical influences predispose some people to react aggressively to conflict and provocation o Aggression as response to frustration:  John Dollard says: “Frustration always leads to some form of aggression”  Frustration is anything that blocks our attaining a goal. Frustration grows when our motivation to achieve a goal is very strong, when we expected gratification, and when the blocking is complete  The aggressive energy need not expose directly against its source. We learn to inhibit direct retaliation, especially when others might disapprove or punish; instead we displace our hostilities to safer targets  Displaced aggression is most likely when the target shares some similarity to the instigator and does some minor irritating act that unleashes the displaced aggression  When a person is harbouring anger, even a trivial offence – one that would normally produce no response – may elicit an explosive overreaction  Sometimes frustration increases aggressiveness, sometimes not. If it was not the fault of the person, or if the person apologizes and tries to make amends, we typically get irritated, but will not be aggressive  Leonard Berkowitz realized that the original theory overstated the frustration- aggression connection so he revised it to be that frustration produces anger, an emotional readiness to aggress. Anger arises when someone who frustrates us could have chosen to act otherwise. A frustrated person is especially likely to lash out when aggressive cues pull the cock, releasing bottled up anger  Actual deprivation and social injustice are not irrelevant to social unrest; it’s just that frustration arises from the gap between expectations and attainments. When your expectations are fulfilled by your attainments, and when your desires are reachable at your income, you feel satisfied rather than frustrated  Frustration is often compounded when we compare ourselves to others especially in people with shaky self-esteem, any form of “upward comparison” can cause feelings of relative deprivation  One possible source of frustration today is the affluence depicted in television programs and commercials. In cultures where television is a universal appliance, it helps turn absolute deprivation (lacking what others have) into relative deprivation (feeling deprived) o Aggression as learned social behaviour:  Theories of aggression based on instinct and frustration assume that hostile urges erupt from inner emotions, which naturally “push” aggression from within. Social psychologists contend that learning also “pulls” aggression out of us  By experience and by observing others, we learn that aggression often pays. A child whose aggressive acts successfully intimidate other children will likely become increasingly aggressive  Albert Bandura proposed a social learning theory of aggression. He believes that we learn aggression not only experiencing its payoffs but also by observing others. We acquire aggression by watching other’s act and seeing the consequences  In an experiment with kids watching the behaviour of an adult, children often reproduced the model’s acts and said her words. Observing aggressive behaviour had both lowered the kids’ inhibitions and taught kids ways to aggress. Bandura believes that everyday life exposes us to aggressive models in the family, in one’s subculture, and in the mass media  Physically aggressive children tend to have physically punitive parents, who disciplined them by modelling aggression with screaming, slapping, and beating. These parents often had parents who were themselves physically punitive  Family influence also appears in higher violence rates in cultures and in families with absentee fathers. Two-parent families differ not only in increased care and positive discipline by fathers, but also in lesser poverty and greater educational achievements. The correlation between parental absence and violence holds across races, income levels, education, and locations  The social environment outside the home also provides models. In communities where “macho” images are admired, aggression is readily transmitted to new generations. The broader culture also matters. A man from a nondemocratic culture that is economically underdeveloped, that has great economic inequality, that prepares men to be warriors and has engaged in war, and they will show you someone who is predisposed to aggressive behaviours  Whites in the southern US are more likely to commit and approve of violence to protect health and home than Whites in northern US – example of the effects of subculture on violence  People learn aggressive responses both by experience and by observing aggressive models. Bandura contends that aggressive acts are motivated by a variety of aversive experiences – frustration, pain, insults. Such experiences arouse us emotionally, but whether we act aggressively depends on the consequences we anticipate. Aggression is most likely when we are aroused an it seems safe and rewarding to aggress  Recipes for aggression often include not only frustration but some type of aversive experience: pain uncomfortable heat, an attack, or overcrowding: o Pain:  Leonard Berkowitz et al. had participants place their hands in either lukewarm water of painfully cold water. Those in the cold water reported to be more irritated and more annoyed, and they were more willing to blast another person with unpleasant noise. Based on these results, Berkowitz proposed that aversive stimulation rather than frustration is the basic trigger of hostile aggression. Frustration is certainly one important type of unpleasantness, but any form of
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