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Chapter 13

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PSYC 215
John Lydon

SOCIAL PSYCH CHAPTER 13 SUMMARY AGGRESSION Explanations for aggression depend on whether it was hostile or instrumental aggression. Hostile aggression = behavior intended to harm another - physically or psychologically - motivated by feelings of anger & hostility. I.e. genocides Instrumental aggression = behavior intended to harm another in the service of motives other than pure hostility (i.e. attract attention, acquire wealth, advance pol./social causes, gain status). Many acts of aggression involve a mix of the 2 styles i.e. do aggressive act (punch) for instrumental reasons. SITUATIONAL DETERMINANTS OF AGGRESSION Consider situational factors to understand why aggression occurs - not only ppl’s personal tendencies. I.e. certain genes may predispose ppl to aggression but they’re only activated in specific circumstances. Factors leading to aggression... Heat Moods & actions related to weather. Anger raises body temperature bc of the increase of blood distribution in the body. Early 19th c.: violent crime rates higher in southern France & Italy than in northern parts of the countries. Other factors also involved. Craig Anderson - Evidence that higher-than-normal temp. ass. w/ increase in aggression: -higher rates of violent crimes in hotter regions -examined crime rates of 260 cities in USA: identified # of days 90+ degrees. The # of hot days = strong predictor of elevated violent crime rates but not nonviolent rates. -true even w/ controlled variables (unemployment, income, average age) Ppl + violent during hot moths than cold ones (except December bc of holidays) Murder & rape increase during summer. Study: major league baseball pitchers + likely to hit batters as weather gets hotter. Esp. true when pitcher’s teammate has been hit by the opposite pitcher earlier in the game. This effect can’t be attributed to reduced competence; neither wild pitches/walks go up w/ temp. Global warming: as temp. rises, ppl might expect to see increases in violence in the world? Study: data from past 50 yrs. During El Niño yrs in tropical countries - whether esp. hot & dry - the likelihood of civil conflict increased dramatically. Why heat makes ppl + aggressive? Attributional processes. -misattribution perspective = ppl are aroused by the heat but unaware it’s the source of their arousal. SOCIAL PSYCH CHAPTER 13 SUMMARY -when encounter circumstances prompting anger = attribute anger to that person & this misattribution arousal gives rise to amplified feelings of anger/aggression. -heat may trigger not just undifferentiated arousal, but specific feelings of anger esp. anger increasing likelihood of aggressive behaviors. Media Violence Exposure to media violence increases aggressive behavior. Copycat violence = imitation of specific violent acts depicted in the media. I.e. when Hickley tried to kill president Reagan by shooting him. Copycat violence inspired from Taxi Driver movie. Laboratory studies examined effects of exposure to media violence aggression immediately afterwards. Studies: participants view aggressive film & then given opportunity to act aggressively. Results show that watching aggressive films does make ppl more aggressive. Short-term effect. -one study showed that watching aggressive films compared to control gr. of juvenile delinquents staying at a minimum-security penal institution more aggressive. -another study; male college students behaved + aggressively toward woman when they where angered & exposed to violent media imagery. -exposure to violent pornography increased aggression towards women. The control of kinds of violent media participants view discovered which types of media violence + likely to lead to aggression: when identify w/ the perpetrator of the violent act, when media portrays justified violence (like against bad ppl). When participants led to focus away from aggressive content = less aggressive behavior. Long-term effects study: -assessed TV viewing habits of 211 boys in Columbia County from childhood to adulthood. Wanted to see if each boy’s preference for violent TV at 8 yrs old predicted criminal activity by 30 yrs old. -potential problem w/ study = maybe aggressive boys at 8 preferred aggressive TV? Controlled the variable of how aggressive the child was at 8. -children preferring to watch violent Tv at 8 = + likely to engage in criminal activities by 30. Violent Video Games 2 video games addicts - Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold. Later, their life actions mimicked the video games. They planted bombs & took guns to school and killed 12 classmates and 1 teacher, injured 23 students, and killed themselves. Study: 43 undergrads w/ average amount of video game experience were randomly assigned to play 1 of 2 games. Mortal Combat vs PGA Tournament of Golf. SOCIAL PSYCH CHAPTER 13 SUMMARY -all played few rounds vs a confederate. When lost, they were punished w/ a burst of white noise. When won, they punished the confederate w/ the white noise. -ppl playing Mortal Combat gave longer & more intense bursts of white noise. Review of 35 similar studies - 5 disturbing effects of violent video games: (1) increases aggressive behavior, (2) reduces prosocial behavior like helping or altruism, (3) increases aggressive thoughts, (4) increases aggressive emotions, & (5) increases blood pressure and heart rate. Observed in children & adults, both genders. Social Rejection and Aggression Social rejection can lead to aggression. Throughout human evolution, social rejection could lead to death bc of the dependence on group for basic needs. Given the many evolutionary advantages to being integrated into groups, social rejection activates a threat defense syst. involving stress-related cardiovascular arousal, release of cortisol = distress & pain leading to defensive aggressive tendencies. Early in primate evolution, threat defense syst. linked to physical aggression & helped in aggressive encounters (like being attacked). As humans evolved, social cues (gossip, eye roll, criticism, etc.) got power to trigger the threat defense syst. & its ass. feelings and tendencies, including acting aggressively. Social rejection stimulates feelings of pain. Study: painful consequences of rejection. -ball-tossing paradigm: one participant plays a ball-tossing game w/ 2 confederates. At a predetermined time in the experiment, the 2 confederates stop throwing the ball to the participant and play b/w each other during 5 min. Being rejected in this game triggers feelings of distress, shame, self-doubt, and a submissive/slouched posture. Study: neuroimaging study -participants believed they were playing ball-tossing w/ 2 other ppl (but was actually vs a computer). When experienced virtual form of rejection, fMRI showed region of brain called anterior cingulate lighting up (where physical painful stimuli is processed). Study: found that acetaminophen - active ingredient in Tylenol - diminishes social pain just as much as physical pain. Ppl reporting chronic sense of rejection are + likely to act aggressively in romantic relshps, even w/ physical abuse. Study: ppl who were led to image a lonely, socially rejected future, compared w/ control ppl, were + likely to administer unpleasant noise blasts to strangers who had nothing to do w/ their sense of rejection. Income Inequality Economic inequality increases violence. SOCIAL PSYCH CHAPTER 13 SUMMARY Study: measure the degree of inequality in terms of diff. in % of wealth owned by the richest in society (usu the top 20%) vs the poorest (usu the bottom 20%). Then look if regional inequality corr. w/ prevalence of diff. kinds crimes. It does. -countries w/ high economic inequality, the average citizen + likely to be a victim of crime than in countries w/ less economic inequality. -kids in countries w/ bigger inequality are + likely to experience conflict w/ their peers & report being victims of bullying. -same goes when classifying states in US. Why this connection b/w income & violence? -powerful feelings of social rejection from ppl at the bottom of unequal societies -inequality undermines cohesiveness of a place = the feeling of trust & goodwill individuals have toward one another. More violent crimes occur in less cohesive neighborhoods. -evolutionary psychologists: inequality throws males into competition for economic resources & access to females; 2 sources of conflict. CONSTRUAL PROCESSES AND AGGRESSION Sit. do nothing by themselves, their influence is channeled through construal processes. I.e. many ppl live in extreme heat cond., are socially rejected, are poorer, watch Tv & play video games and are not aggressive. Seeing the world through lens of anger is a powerful cause of aggressive behavior. The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis The determinant of aggression is frustration. Ppl act aggressively (or desire to do so) when they feel thwarted in their attempt to reach a goal. Aggression increases in direct proportion to (1) the amount of satisfaction the person anticipates receiving from meeting the goal (b4 it’s blocked), (2) how completely the person is prevented from achieving the goal, (3) how frequently the person is blocked from achieving the goal, & (4) how close the person believes is to achieving the goal. Study: illustrating some of these principles. Confederate cut in front of movie line. -one cond.: target was twelfth in line, another cond.: target was 2nd in line, /b to buy ticket = closer to 2 hours of anticipated pleasure. -target 2nd in line much + aggressive by being cut. Critiques of the Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis This hyp. is an important 1st step to understand aggression but has problems. Not all aggressive behaviors come from a threat to a goal. Aggression can follow a stimuli that do not directly block goal-directed behavior. I.e. when SOCIAL PSYCH CHAPTER 13 SUMMARY ppl are exposed to higher lvls of pollutions, they are + likely to act aggressively. Some forms of instrumental aggression like bullying don’t come from a blocked goal. I.e. bully towards a goal like getting attention, raising status, to show off, etc. Frustration doesn’t necessarily lead to aggression. Depends on how ppl construes the source of frustration. Learned helplessness : passive & depressed responses that ppl show when their goals are blocked & they feel they have no control over their outcomes. Studies: dogs were shocked & prevented from escaping pain. After repeated exposure to this uncontrollable negative stimulus, they didn’t react w/ aggression but got into a pitiable state of helplessness & resignation. A Neo-Associationistic Account of Aggression The 2 critiques of the frustration-aggression hyp. show how imp. construals processes for aggressive behavior. Not just having goals blocked - how we interpret events that block them. Acts that we construe as having been intentionally harmful are + likely to make us aggressive as equally harmful acts that we construe as accidental. Neo-associationistic account of aggression = anger-related construals are the key process making ppl respond aggressively to aversive stimuli. Study: any aversive event can elicit aggressive response (i.e. hunger, fatigue, humiliation, etc.) -participants who held their arms horizontally for painful minutes had harsher, + hostile assessments of their mothers & romantic partners than control subjects. -critical determinant = event producing unpleasant feelings of anger. Anger is ass. w/ bad thoughts & once activated it makes intentional harm against others = aggression, + likely. I.e. Aversive Event (pain, heat, goals blocked) = Anger (perceived injustice, thoughts of attack, elevated arousal) = Aggression (attacking physically, harming someone emotionally). Weapons and Violence Guns are powerful cues priming anger-related construals making aggression + likely. Study: said it was /b “effects of physiological stress upon work”. Subject & confederate worked on a series of problems & took turns “evaluating each other’s performance”. Did so by giving b/w 1 & 10 shocks, having been instructed to deliver + shocks for performances that needed most improvement. - subjects worked on problem first. Unknown to subjects, confederate gave shocks on whether they were in the neutral or anger condition. -shocked ppl in neutral cond. once, and in anger cond. 7 times. -subjects than watched confederate work on problems & gave evaluation of the performance in
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