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Chapter 13

PSYC 215 Chapter Notes - Chapter 13: Social Rejection, White Noise, Prosocial Behavior


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 215
Professor
Mark Baldwin
Chapter
13

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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).
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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
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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
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