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Chapter 13

PSYC215 Chapter 13 Summary (Bona Kim).docx

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McGill University
PSYC 215
John Lydon

Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary CHAPTER 13 - Aggression (pgs. 498-525) - Explanations for why aggression occurs vary according to whether it is hostile or instrumental aggression o Hostile aggression: refers to behavior motivated by feelings of anger and hostility and whose primary aim is to harm another, either physically or psychologically o Instrumental aggression: refers to behavior that is intended to harm another in the service of motives other than pure hostility  People harm others for example, to gain status, to attract attention, to acquire wealth, and to advance political and ideological causes - many acts of aggression involve a mix of hostile and instrumental motives o for example, a football player who intentionally harms another (hostile aggression) or to foster a reputation for fearlessness, to help his team win (instrumental) SITUATIONAL DETERMINANTS OF AGGRESSION - situational factors that give rise to violence and aggression o heat: hotter cities have higher rates of violent crime, and more violence occurs during hot months than during cool months o media violence o social rejection and aggression o income inequality Heat - Craig Anderson provided evidence that higher than normal temperatures are associated with increased aggression o There are higher rates of violent crimes in hotter regions o Examined the crime rates of 260 cities throughout the U.S. o For each city, he identified the # of days in which the temp exceeded 90° F o The # of hot days (90°F +) was a strong predictor of elevated violent crime rates but not nonviolent crime rates o This was true even when he controlled for the city’s level of unemployment, per capita income, and avg age of its citizens - people are most violent during hot months (July, Aug) than during cooler months (Jan, Feb) o the one exception is Dec when violent crime rates also rise - murder and rape increase during the summer months - major league baseball pitchers are more likely to hit batters as the weather gets hotter o this is esp true when the pitcher’s teammates have been hit by the opposing pitcher earlier in the game o this effect cannot be attributed to reduced competence; neither wild pitches nor walks go up with temp - as the temp of the earth +, people might expect to see + in violence throughout the world o recently, climate scientists have addressed this possibility, and the results are one more reason to be concerned about climate change  Solomon Hsiang et al. Looked at data for the past 50 yrs and found that during what are known as El Nino years in tropical countries (when the weather is esp hot and dry) the likelihood of civil conflict rises dramatically - What is it about high temps that makes ppl more aggressive? o 1. According to the misattribution perspective, people are aroused by the heat, but they are largely unaware that it is the source of their arousal  when they encounter circumstances that prompt anger, they attribute their arousal to that person, and this misattributed arousal gives rise to amplified feelings of anger and aggression o 2. Heat triggers not just undifferentiated arousal, but specific feelings of anger in particular - angry feelings that increase the likelihood of all kinds of aggressive behvr Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary Media Violence - media violence has been shown to cause violence and aggression in real life - copycat violence: the imitation of specific violent acts depicted in the media o lab studies have examined the effects of exposure to media violence on aggression immediately afterward o participants typically view aggressive films and then are given an opp to act in an aggressive fashion: for ex, by shocking a confrontational confederate  watching aggressive films makes ppl more aggressive o one study showed that watching aggressive films compared with control films made juvenile delinquents staying at a minimum-security penal institution more aggressive o in another study, male college students behaved more aggressively toward a female when they were angered and exposed to violent media imagery o exposure to violent porn in particular increases the endorsement of aggression against women - people tend to be more aggressive after seeing films in which they identify with the perpetrator of the violent act - people are more likely to be aggressive after watching violent films that portray justified violence - that is, violence perpetrated against “bad people” - when participants are led to direct their attention away from aggressive content of the violent film - for ex, by focusing on the aesthetic features of the film - they are less likely to be aggressive - Rowell Huesmann and Leonard Eron et al o Early exposure to media violence leads to aggressive behavior later in life o Assessed the television viewing habits of 211 boys in Columbia County (upstate NY) from childhood to adulthood  Wanted to know whether each boy’s preference for watching violent TV at age 8 as reported by his mother would predict how much criminal activity he would engage in by age 30  One potential prob: perhaps aggressive boys at 8 like to watch violent TV.  Thus, they controlled for how aggressive the child was at 8 and subsequent aggressive behavior  Children who preferred to watch violent TV at age 8 were more likely to engage in serious criminal activity by age 30  It was the violent TV and not the participants’ initial aggressiveness that resulted in their criminal activity Violent Video Games - a recent nationally representative sample found that the avg American between age 8-18 spends about 13 hrs/week playing video games o boys play more on avg (just over 16 hrs) than girls (about 9 hrs) o about 8% of American children are obsessive, playing on avg 24hrs/week - addicts Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold o played violent video games habitually (favourite game = “doom”) o Harris created a custom version: 2 shooters armed with extra weapons and unlimited ammunition would gun fown an array of helpless victims who couldn’t fight back o Their actions mirrored their video game world: planted bombs, took several guns and massive amounts of ammunition to their school, Columbine High School (Colorado)  Killed 12 classmates and 1 teacher, injured 23 students, killed themselves - in one study, 43 undergrad women and men with an avg amount of experience playing video games were randomly assigned to play one of 2 games: “Mortal Kombat”, PGA Tournament Golf o all participants played several rounds of one of these games against a confederate o if they lost, they were punished by the confederate with a burst of white noise o participants who had played mortal kombat gave longer and more intense bursts of white noise to their competitor than those who had played the golf game Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary - Anderson and Bushman documented 5 effects of playing video games: o 1. Increases aggressive behavior o 2. Reduces prosocial behavior such as helping or altruism o 3. Increases aggressive thoughts o 4. Increases aggressive emotions o 5. Increases blood pressure and heart rate, physiological responses associated with fighting and fleeing o these were observed in children and adult women and men Social Rejection and Aggression - Harris and Klebold felt socially rejected by the more popular students at school, and their violence was a reaction to their feelings of ostracism - Geoff MacDonald and Mark Leary: why social rejection triggers aggression o Throughout evolution, being socially rejected from the group was akin to a death warrant, given our dependence on others for food, shelter, defense and affection o Many evolutionary advantages to being integrated into groups, social rejection came to activate a threat defense system, which involves  stress-related cardiovascular arousal  release of the stress hormone cortisol  feelings of distress and pain  defensive aggressive tendencies o early in primate evolution, this threat defense system was attuned to cues of physical aggression, such as a predator’s attack, and it enabled our predecessors to fare well in aggressive encounters o as humans evolved into the most social primates, hearing someone gossip about us, eye roll, critical tone of voice, acquired the power to trigger this threat defense system and its associated feelings and tendencies, including the tendency to act aggressively - social rejection stimulates feelings of pain: people who feel rejected report higher levels of chronic physical pain, physical ailments and even greater pain during childbirth o Kip Williams developed the ball-tossing paradigm to study experimentally the painful consequences of rejection  In this paradigm, one participant plays a ball-tossing game with 2 confederates  At a predetermined time, the 2 confederates stop throwing the ball to the participant and throw the ball only to eachother for 5 painful minutes  Being rejected triggers feelings of distress, shame, self-doubt, and a submissive slouched posture - neuroimaging study where participants believed that they were playing the ball-tossing game with two other people o but they were playing against a computer that had been programmed by the experimenter o when the participant experienced the virtual form of rejection, fMRI images revealed that a region of the brain known as the anterior cingulate (which processes physically painful stimuli) lit up.  social rejection activates the same regions of the brain involved in processing physical pain - social rejection also increases the likelihood of aggression o people who report a chronic sense of rejection are more likely to act aggressively in romantic relationships, even resorting to physical abue o Jean Twenge et al.  Found that individuals who were led to imagine a lonely, socially rejected future, compared with appropriate control individuals, were more likely to administer unpleasant noise blasts to strangers who had nothing to do with the participants’ sense of social rejection Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary Income Inequality - degree to which the wealthy differ from the poor in their yearly income and net wealth - Wilkinson and Pickett: believe economic inequality increases violence o Measure the degree of inequality in terms of the difference in percentage of wealth owned by the richest in society (usually up to 20%) compared with that owned by the poorest in society (usually bottom 20%) o Then look at whether regional inequality correlates with the prevalence of different kinds of violence IT DOES o In countries characterized by high economic inequality (i.e. Bolivia, Iran, Kenya, and the U.S.), the avg citizen is much more likely to be murdered, assaulted or raped than in countries with less economic inequality (i.e. Germany, Taiwan, Ireland and Norway) o Children in countries with greater income inequality are more likely to experience conflict with their peers and to report being victims of bullying o If states within the U.S. are classified according to their levels of economic inequality, the pattern repeats itself at the state level o For example, rates of homicide are higher in the U.S. states with high levels of economic inequality than those with low levels of economic inequality o The powerful feelings of social rejection felt by individuals at the bottom in unequal societies might trigger violence - explanations for the connection between income inequality and violence o Inequality undermines the cohesiveness of a neighbourhood, state, or country - the feeling of trust and goodwill individuals have toward one another o More violent crime occurs in less cohesive neighbourhoods o Inequality throws males into competition for economic resources and access to females - two sources of conflict that often lie behind murder and other crimes BOX 13.1: Focus on Genes and Environment: Nature or Nurture? It’s Both - many biological factors predispose certain individuals to act aggressively o for example, testosterone tends to be associated with higher levels of aggression  delinquents have higher levels of testosterone than college students  members of rowdier frats = higher levels than those of more responsible frats - Avshalom Capsi, Moffitt et al: aggression might best be thought of as the interaction between situational factors and genetically based individual differences o tested for the two forms of the monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that metabolizes certain neurotransmitters in the synapses between neurons in the brain, allowing for smooth communication between neurons) A (MAOA) gene  in nonhuman species, individuals with a defective, short form of MAOA gene have been shown to be more aggressive, suggesting that this gene may predict aggressive behavior in humans o identified men with this defective short form of the gene (37% of the sample) and those with the long form of the gene o also identified men who had or had not been mistreated by their parents as children (one of the most potent circumstances that gives rise to violence in adulthood) o overall, the defective MAOA gene alone didn’t affect whether the boys commited violent crimes by age 26  suggests that genetic predispositions of the individual alone don’t determine whether the individual engages in aggression o the catalyst of aggressive behavior proved to be the combo of the short form of the MAOA gene and a family envmt of physical abuse  boys who had the defective gene and were mistreated as children were 3x more likely to have been convicted to a violent crime by age 26 as the boys who had the defective gene but weren’t mistreated o 85% of the boys with the short form of the MAOA gene who weren’t severely mistreated developed some sort of anti-social bejaviour o nature requires nurture to shape behaviour Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary BOX 13.2: Focus on the Media - Copycat Violence - David Phillips gathered evidence indicating that one type of copycat violence, suicide is real o He controlled for the effects of weather and season on aggressive behavior: Identified 35 suicides reported in the U.S. media from 1947-1968 and examined the suicide rates in the following months. Compared the suicide rates of those months with the rates observed during the same months in the years before and after each suicide o 26/35 suicides, the suicide rate rose substantially more in the month following the suicide than in the two comparison months  Marilyn Monroe’s death - 12% increase in suicides in the U.S. and a 10% increase in Great Britain o observed a strong positive correlation between the amount of media coverage the suicide received and the increase in the suicide rate  the more media reports of suicide, the greater the increase in copycat suicides o people were not killing themselves out of grief - they even imitated the suicides of KKK Box 13.3: Focus on the Environment - Green Neighbourhoods Make for More Peaceful Citizens - recent experiments have found that a walk in the woods enables adults to perform better on a measure of concentrated attention and that reports of experiences in nature are the best predictor, compared with other recreational activities of calming down the stress of work - Frances Kuo: green spaces make for less violent neighbourhoods o Studied police reports of violence occurring near 98 low-rise buildings that are part of the Ida Wells housing project in Chicago o Some of the buildings were surrounded by trees and lawns, others by asphalt and a lack of greenery o The residents in these 98 buildings came from similar backgrounds, similar levels of unemployment and economic hardship, and were randomly assigned to the buildings they live in o Discovered that the likelihood of violent crime was lower near apartments surrounded by green spaces o Allowed children with ADD who are more prone to aggressive acts to go for a walk of comparable length and physical exertion in one of three places:  In a green park  Quiet neighbourhood  Noisy downtown o children scored better on a measure of concentration only after the walk in the park o green spaces seem to calm people’s minds, enabling them to handle the frustrations of daily living better CONSTRUAL PROCESSES AND AGGRESSION The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis - Miller and Dollard argued that the determinant of aggression is frustration: the thwarting of an individual’s attempts to achieve some goal o Individuals act aggressively when attempts at achieving goals are blocked o Proposed aggression increases in direct proportion to 4 factors:  1. Amount of satisfaction the indvl anticipates receiving from meeting the goal  2. How completely the individual is prevented from achieving their goal  3. How frequently the individual is blocked from achieving the goal  4. How close the individual believes he/she is to achieving the goal - a study that illustrates some of these principles o a confederate cut in front of individuals waiting patiently in line to see a movie o C1: the target was 12 in line o C2: the target was 2ndin line, about to purchase a ticket o As predicted by the frustration-aggression hypothesis, the target who was second in line was much more aggressive in response to the confederate who cut in line than the person who was 12 in line Bona Kim PSYC215 Chapter Summary Critiques of the Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis - 1. Calls into question the hypothesis that all aggressive behaviours follow from frustration, or the perceived thwarting of goal-directed activity o Research findings suggest that aggression can also follow stimuli that don’t directly block goal-directed behavior  heat and aggression: how does heat block an individual’s goals?  when animals are shocked, they often aggress against others in their vicinity  When people are exposed to extreme levels of pollution, they are most likely to act aggressively o Some forms of instrumental aggression, such as bullying, aren’t the direct product of the blocking of goals  For example, bullies often act aggressively against weaker peers out of a desire to get attention, raise their status, or show off  In each of these cases, 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 - 2. Frustration doesn’t necessarily lead to aggression o frustration can lead to other responses, depending on how the individual construes the source of frustration o best example: learned helplessness - the passive and depressive responses some people show when their goals are blocked and they believe that they have no control over their outcomes o in a series of studies, dogs were shocked and prevented from escaping the pain o after repeated exposure to this uncontrollable, negative stimulus, the dogs didn’t react with aggression; instead, they collapsed into a pitiable state of helplessness A Neo-Associationistic Account of Aggression - it’s not just having our goals blocked that leads to
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