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Chapter 13

PSYC 215 Chapter 13: Chapter 13 summary

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McGill University
PSYC 215
Mark Baldwin

Chapter 13 summary Hutus and Tutsis Plane carrying President of Rwanda (Hutu) was shot down Caused more tension than there was already between Hutus and Tutsis Hutus massacred approximately 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus Sudanese population (desperate because of drought and starvation) attacked the government, eliciting a similar response to the Rwandan massacre from the Sudanese government (raped and slaughtered tens of thousands of people) Twentieth century was the most violent in history Situational determinants of aggression Hostile aggression: behavior intended to harm another, either physically or psychological, and motivated by feelings of anger and hostility E.g., Rwandan massacre (Hutus seeking revenge on Tutsis) Instrumental aggression: behavior intended to harm another in the service of motives other than pure hostility (such as attracting attention, acquiring wealth, or advancing political or ideological causes) E.g., Rwandan massacre (Hutus were seeking to displace the more powerful Tutsis) A situational perspective is crucial to understanding aggression Certain genes may predispose people to aggression, but these genes only act out in certain circumstances E.g., level of testosterone in the blood, density of neural connections in the frontal lobes, etc. Aggression is best thought of as an interaction between nature (genes) and nurture (environment/situational factors) By itself, a genetic predisposition dose not determine whether an individual will engage in aggression, but these genes increase the likelihood of aggression in certain situations Hot weather Anger literally raises the temperature of the body (increased heart rate, increased distribution of blood in certain areas such as the hands) People have noticed that there is more aggression and crime in Southern France and Southern Italy rather than in Northern France and Northern Italy (colder weather) Anderson, 1987, 1989: looked at crime rates in 260 different cities in the US. When the temperate exceeded 90°F, this was a strong predictor of elevated violent crimes but not nonviolent crimes. This was true even was the researcher controlled unemployment, income, and other sociological factors. Murder and rape increase in summer months Global warming the world’s population will get more violent Why? People are aroused by the heat, and are unaware that this is affecting their behavior. When they encounter a frustrating situation and the weather is hot, they attribute this arousal (anger) to the other person involved in the situation (e.g., taxi driver, romantic partner). Media Violence 90 percent of television programs display aggression and children watch around 3-4 hours of television per day Copycat violence: the imitation of specific violent acts depicted in the media E.g., John Hinckley tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan after seeing Robert de Niro’s movie ‘Taxi Driver’, where the character tries to assassinate a politician Suicide: form of copycat violence against the self Marilyn Monroe’s death was followed by an increase in suicides Watching aggression television does make people more violent Exposure to violent pornography increases the endorsement of aggression against women People tend to act more violently after seeing movie or media violence where they identify with the perpetrator of the violent act People tend to act more violently after seeing movie or media violence where the violence was justified (done to defeat a “bad person”) Limitations: Lab studies where, say, a participant gives an electric shock to a confederate may not be representative of real-world violent acts like rape and murder and crime Lab studies do not say much about the long-term effects of media violence Huesmann et al., 2003: observed the TV-watching habits of 6-9 year-olds and came to the conclusion that 15 years later, those who were more exposed to media violence were more aggressive as adults Violent video games 85% of American teens play video games Playing gives them a high and they feel withdrawal symptoms when they don’t play Often creates conflict with the family Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold: obsessed with the video game ‘Doom’, where two shooters murder several helpless victims. The two teens then shot up their school in 1999, as was done in the video game. They then killed themselves. Bartholow & Anderson (2002): participants either played a violent video game or a golf video game against a confederate. Whenever they won, they punished the confederate with a burst of white noise, and when they lost it was the other way around. Those playing the violent video game gave longer bursts of white noise to the confederate. Five reactions associated with playing violent video games: 1. Increase aggressive behavior 2. Reduce prosocial behavior, such as helping or altruism 3. Increase aggressive thoughts 4. Increase aggressive emotions, especially anger 5. Increase blood pressure and heart rate (physiological responses associated with fighting The reality of violent behavior today Even though findings related to media violence and video game violence suggest otherwise, violent behavior by young people is actually declining Third variable critique: e.g., there is a positive correlation between ice cream consumption and violent behavior. Third variable: hot weather. Possible third variables for studies done on correlations between media violence exposure and aggression: depression, aggressiveness of peers, level of violence in the family Social rejection and aggression Columbine school shooting (Harris and Klebold): could have been caused by the violence in the video games, or also could be caused by the feeling of social rejection that they felt amongst their peers in school MacDonald & Leary (2005): evolutionarily, we depend on others to survive (food, shelter, etc.). So, being rejected is seen as a threat and becomes a stressful experience. Activates the threat defense system (sometimes involves aggression) People who feel rejected report higher levels of chronic physical pain and physical ailments Williams et al. (2007): ball-tossing game. Three people (one participant and two confederates) toss a ball back and forth. Eventually, the confederates throw the ball amongst the two of them and reject the participant. The part of the brain that is stimulated during physical pain then lights up So, social pain in similar to physical pain Acetaminophen helps social pain just as much as it helps physical pain Social rejection also increase the likelihood of aggression (social rejection is often a root a cause of school shootings, e.g., Columbine and Sandy Hook) Income inequality The US is characterized by fairly extreme income inequality Income inequality is positively correlated with violence (homicides) Children in countries with greater income inequality are more likely to report conflict with their peers and to report being victims of bullying Possible reason: those who are at the bottom of the social hierarchy in a society with unequal income distribution feel social rejection, which leads to aggression in some situations as we have seen previously Other possibility: income inequality diminishes cohesiveness among the population of a given society, so there is less trust and goodwill among people. Other possibility: inequality throws males into more extreme competition for economic resources and access to mates Easy access to green spaces and nature influence our psychological health Calms down stress, increases focus and concentration Likelihood of violent crime is less prevalent in areas with green spaces nearby Helps people better handle the daily frustrations of life Construal processes and aggression Situations do nothing by themselves; their influence is channeled through construal processes Many people play violent video games or feel rejected and do not act aggressively Anger Any unpleasant stimulus triggers a fight-or-flight response of anger Physical discomfort, hunger, feelings of shame or depression, etc. Hot weather may prompt relaxation as much as it can lead to aggressive behavior Berkowitz: the presence of guns and weapons will lead to aggression only when combined with anger Berkowitz & Lepage (1967): participants had to perform a certain task and were told they would be shocked if they did not do well. In reality, they were assigned to either a neutral condition or an anger condition. Those in the neutral condition were shocked once; those in the anger condition were shocked seven times. Afterwards, they had to shock the confederates if they did not perform well on the same task. Beside the shock machine, there was either no object, a badminton racket, or a gun. Those who in the gun condition would only act aggressively with the confederate when they were also in the anger condition. The combination of both factors is what elicited the aggressiveness. Effect of uniform color on aggression: sports team players who wear black colors are more likely to have more penalties and act violently Maybe because of the stereotype of movie villains wearing black Lack of research and appropriate findings makes it unlikely for these findings to be applicable to real-life aggression Dehumanization The attribution of nonhuman characteristics and denial of human qualities to groups other than one’s own Two types of dehumanization: 1. Person can be denied human nature: attributes that distinguish humans from inanimate objects (validity of emotions, feelings of pain, expressing warmth towards others, etc.) 2. Denying a person human uniqueness: attributes that distinguish humans from other species (capacity for civility, symbolic language or mathematics, etc.) Dehumanization can unleash aggression for the simple reason that it’s easier to harm something that does not seem human Men who are more capable of dehumanizing women are more likely to report being willing to rape a woman if no one ever found out about it, and to say that women deserve to be raped. Factor that increases likelihood of dehumanizing: loyalty to valued social groups. When we feel strongly tied to one group, we are more likely to dehumanize others Social connectedness brings people together as a
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