-Explanations for why aggression occurs vary according to whether it is hostile or instrumental
-Hostile Aggression: Behavior intended to harm another, either physically or psychologically, and
motivated by feelings of anger and hostility.
-Instrumental Aggression: Behavior intended to harm another in the service of motives other than pure
hostility (for example, to attract attention, to acquire wealth, or to advance political and ideological
-Many acts of aggression involve a mix of hostile and instrumental behavior.
Situational Determinants of Aggression
-Situational factors can surprisingly influence aggression, not just aggression from aggressive people.
-Certain genes may predispose people to aggression, but this only leads to aggression under certain
circumstances in someone's life.
-Some of the situational factors:
-Anger literally raises body temperature
-Higher-than-normal temperatures are associated with increased aggression.
-People are more violent during hot months.
-Points to an unsettling consequence of climate change: AS the temperature rises, people might become
more violent throughout the world. For example, during El Nino years in tropical countries (hot and dry),
the likelihood of civil conflict rises dramatically.
-What is it about high temperatures that make people more aggressive? One explanation is attributional
processes. According to the misattribution perspective, people are aroused by the heat, but they are
largely unaware that it is the source of their arousal. For example, when someone is angry at a
frustrating driver, they attribute their arousal to that person and this misattributed arousal gives rise to
amplified feelings of anger and aggression.
-Another possibility is that heat triggers specific feelings of anger which increase the likelihood of
-Exposure to media violence increases aggressive behavior. For example, copycat violence (the imitation
of specific violent acts depicted in the media).
-Exposure to violent pornography increases men's aggression towards women.
-People tend to be more aggressive after seeing films in which they identify with the perpetrator of the
-People are more likely to be aggressive after watching violent films that portray justified violence.
-When people are led to direct their attention away from the violence of the film (for example towards
the aesthetic features of the film instead), then they are less likely to be aggressive.
-Exposure to media violence leads to aggressive behavior later in life.
-There is solid, although not conclusive, evidence that violent TV (rather than participant's initial
aggressiveness), that results in greater criminal activity later in life.
Violent Video Games
-5 disturbing effects of playing video games:
1. Increases aggressive behavior
2. Reduces prosocial behavior, such as help or altruism
3. Increases aggressive thoughts
4. Increases aggressive emotions 5. Increase blood pressure and heart rate, physiological responses associated with fighting and
Social Rejection and Aggression
-People who feel socially rejected have greater tendencies toward aggression.
-Being socially rejected to a group was akin to a death warrant, given our profound dependence on
others for food, shelter, defense and affection.
-Social rejection came to activate a threat defense system, which involves stress related cardiovascular
arousal; the release of the stress hormone cortisol; feelings of distress and pain and defensive
-This is due to evolution and our ancestral instincts. We have acquired the power to trigger this threat
defence system and its associated feelings and tendencies when someone talks negatively of us or we
feel excluded from a group.
-Social rejection stimulates feelings of pain.
-When rejected in four-square, the confederate showed feelings of distress, shame, self-doubt, and a
submissive, slouched posture.
-fMRI images have shown that when rejected, the area of the brain associated with physical pain
(anterior cingulate) is activated.
-Acetaminophen diminishes social pain as much as it does physical pain.
-Increase likelihood of aggression.
-Regional inequality (in a country, state or county) correlates with the prevalence of different kinds of
-The powerful feelings of social rejection felt by individuals at the bottom in unequal societies might
-Another possibility is that inequality undermines the cohesiveness of a neighborhood, state, or country-
that is, the feeling of trust and goodwill individuals have toward one another.
-More violent crimes occur in less cohesive neighborhoods.
-Inequality throws males into competition for economic resources and access to females.
Construal Processes and Aggression
-Situations do nothing by themselves. Their influence is channelled through construal processes.
-What particular construals of stimuli such as heat or social rejection give rise to aggressive behavior?
One construal process in particular-seeing the world through the lens of anger-is a powerful cause of
The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis
-The determinant of aggression is frustration: The internal state that accompanies the thwarting of an
attempt to achieve some goal.
-Aggression increases in direct proportion to (1) the amount of satisfaction the person anticipates
receiving from meeting the goal (before it is blocked), (2) how completely the person is prevented from
achieving the goal, (3) how frequently the person is blocked from achieving the goal, and (4) how close
the individual believes he or she is to achieving the goal.
Critiques of the Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis
-First criticism has called into question the hypothesis that all aggressive behaviors follow from
frustration, or the perceived thwarting of goal directed activity.
-Aggression can also follow stimuli that do not directly block goal-directed behavior. (When
people are exposed to extreme levels of pollution, they are more likely to act aggressively).
-The stimulus that produces aggression has nothing to do with blocking an individual's goals. Some
kind of construal other than the perceived thwarting of goals must account for how these stimuli
give rise to aggression. -Second problem is that frustration does not necessarily lead to aggression. Can lead to learned
helplessness: Passive and depressed responses that individuals show when their goals are blocked and
they feel that they have no control over their outcomes.
A Neo-Associationistic Account of Aggression
-It is not just our goals blocked that leads to aggression; it is how we interpret the events that seem to
have prevented us f