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PSYCH 2C03 (81)
Chapter 10


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Jennifer Ostovich

Aggression: Hurting Others What is aggression? - physical or verbal behaviour intended to cause harm - exclude unintentional harm - social (displays of rage) vs. silent (predator stalk a prey) aggression - hostile/hot aggression (aggression driven by anger and performed as an end in itself) vs. instrumental/cool aggression (aggression that is a means to some other end) - terrorism, war- instrumental • leaders justified attacking iraq as an instrumental act of liberation and of self-defence against presumed weapons of mass destruction - murders- hostile • emotional outbursts (therefore, death penalty did not result in fewer homicides), erupt from arguments What are some theories of aggression? [biological, response, learned] Aggression as a biological phenomenon - Jean-Jacques Rousseau: society is source of social evils - Thomas Hobbes: society’s laws are necessary to restrain/control human brute - Neural, genetic, biochemical influences predispose some people to react aggressively to conflict and provocation Instinct theory and evolutionary psychology - Aggressive energy is Instinctual: unlearned and universal  not released  build up  explosion - Freud (human aggression springs from self-destructive impulse) & Lorenz (adaptive) - Challenges: • Collapsed as lsit of human instincts grew • How would shared shared human instinct for aggression explain difference between person to person, and culture to culture? - Although aggression is biologically influenced, human propensity to aggress doesn’t qualify as instinctive behaviour - Aggression is adaptive: aggressive behaviour as strategy for gaining resources, defending against attack..etc Neural influences - no one spot controls, but neural systems facilitate aggression - activated: hostility increased - painless electrical stimulation in amygdale: smashed guitar against the wall, barely missing psychiatrist’s head - abnormal brains can contribute to abnormally aggressive behaviour (prefrontal cortex 14% less active in murderers) Genetic influences - heredity influences the neural system’s sensitivity to aggressive cues - animals can be bred for aggressiveness (guard dogs) • bred most aggressive albino mice together  26 generations  set of fierce mice - our temperaments (how intense and reactive we are) is partly brought with us into the world [influenced by sympathetic] • a child who’s nonaggressive at 8 will likely be nonaggressive at 48 • convicted criminal’s twin (50%)  also have criminal records - recipe for aggressive behaviour: gene that alters neurotransmitter balance + childhood maltreatment [nature and nurture] Biochemical influences: blood chemistry influences neural sensitivity to aggressive stimulation Alcohol - unleashes aggression when people are provoked - violent people are more likely to (1)drink (2) to become aggressive when intoxicated • think back on conflicts  aggressive people are angrier • assailant and or the often had been drinking • violent behaviour decreased as drinking stopped - alcohol enhances aggressiveness by reducing people’s self awareness, ability to consider consequences, people mentally associating alcohol wih aggression [deindividuates & disinhibits] Testosterone - stronger in lower animals - aggressiveness correlates with testosterone - drugs that diminish testosterone  subdue aggressive tendencies [less likely to be provoked] - after 25  testosterone and violent behaviour decreases tgt - testosterone levels higher among prisoners who convicted planned and unprovoked crimes - after handling gun  testosterone levels rise Low serotonin - lowering serotonin in lab  increase response to aversive events and willingness to deliver supposed electric shocks - low serotonin  violence-prone children Biology and behaviour interact - traffic between testosterone, serotonin and behaviour - testosterone  aggressiveness  but defeating behaviour also boosts testosterone - fans of winning team  testosterone level rise  drinking  commit more postgame assaults Aggression as response to frustration Frustration-aggression theory: frustration triggers a readiness to aggress - Frustration: anything that blocks our attaining a goal (grows when our motivation to achieve the goal is very strong, when we expect gratification, blocking is complete) - Higher aggressive attitudes on a day when French fishing boats blocked the port and prevented British passengers from their travel  passengers became more likely to agree with an insult towards a French person who had spilled their coffee - Displacement: the redirection of aggression to a target other than the source of frustration, generally the new target is a safer or more socially acceptable target • e.g. humiliated by boss  yells at son, kicks the dog • Vasquez (2005): provoked university student by having experimenter insult their performance on a anagram-solving test  student was more likely to punish another student by making them put their hand in painful cold water for a long time period - when harbouring anger, even something that would not normally produce a response  elicit explosive over reaction Frustration-theory revised - when frustration is understandable  irritation but not aggression - e.g. when confederate disrupted the group because his hearing aid malfunctioned - when given a reason, when person apologizes, accepts responsibility - Leonard Berkowitz: frustration produces anger, an emotional readiness to aggress (anger arises when someone who frustrates us could have chosento act otherwise) - Frustrated person more likely to lash out upon cues Is frustration the same as deprivation? - economically, sexually, politically deprived ? - unemployment declined  violent crime also decreased - but frustration may be unrelated to deprivation, instead frustration arises form the gap between expectations and attainments - e.g. Marc Lepine killed 14 women in an engineering school because he believed women prevented him from going to engineering school- which was his dream since he was young Relative deprivation - the perception that one is less well off than others to whom one compares oneself - especially in people with shaky self-esteem - salary raise for city’s police officers may deflate morale of firefighters - predicts reactions to perceived inequities by minority groups (e.g. women who make less than men working in the same occupation feel underpaid only if they compare themselves with male rather than female colleagues) - studying satisfaction felt by soldiers in WW2 • those in air cops felt more frustrated about their own rate of promotion than those in the military police (where promotions were slower) • air cops promotions rate was rapid  most air cops personnel perceived themselves as better htan the average  aspirations soared higher than their achievements  frustration - source of frustration is the affluence depicted in TV programs/commercials - where TV is a universal appliance: turns absolute deprivation (lacking what others have) into relative deprivation (feeling deprived)  larceny crime rate jumped as TV was introduced Aggression as learned social behaviour The rewards of aggression - aggression can be an instrument in achieving certain awards - e.g. a child who aggressively acts and successfully intimates others will likely become increasingly aggressive, an aggressive hockey player scores more goals, being applauded - e.g. terrorist attacks enables powerless people to garner widespread attention (primary targets are the witnesses  terrorism, with the media’s amplification  terrorizes-goal) - like the 1970s where naked spectators streaked onto football fields for TV exposure  ignored  ended Observational learning - social learning theory: we learn social behaviour by observing and imitating and by being rewarded and punished - Bandura (1961) • Preschool child put to work on art activity  adult in another room where there are various toys (tinker toys, mallet, bobo)  adult gets up and pounds on the inflated Bobo doll w/ a mallet, throws it, yelling • Preschool child goes into a room w/ toys with many attractive toys (diff room)  experimenter interrupts and says that he needs to save them for other children)  frustrated child goes into the room with various toys  those who observed the outburst were more likely to pick up the mallet and lash out on the doll - everyday life exposures of aggressive models: family, media, subculture - family • physically aggressive children tend to have physically punitive parents who disciplined them with aggression (scream, slap, beat)  the parents also had strict parents • may lead to abuse • most abused children do not become criminals or abusive parents but  30% do later abuse their own child (4x) • family influence is greater when father is absent: 70% juveniles in detention did not grow up with 2 parents • 2 parents (usually): care, positive discipline, lesser poverty, greater educational achievement • Parental absence & violence holds across races, income levels, education, locations • Parental breakup  risk for aggression • Where and when fathers are absent  violence risk increases (it is a correlation only, not saying father absence causes violence - Culture • Violent subculture of teenage gangs  model for junior members • Adolescents who observed gun violence  2x risk for violent behaviour • Broader context: cultures where economy is underdeveloped, inequality, where men are prepared for war  more aggressive • Whites in southern US are more likely to commit and approve of violence to protect health and home than those in the north - Learn aggressive response by observing + experiencing - Aggressive acts motivated by frustration, pain, insults  emotionally arouse us - Whether we act also depends on the consequences we anticipate - Aggression is most likely when we are aroused and it seems safe and rewarding to aggress Summary - Aggression manifests in 2 forms: hostile (springs from emotions such as anger and intends to injuer) and instrumental (means to some other end) - Broad views of aggression; (1) instinct view [freud and Lorenz], aggressive energy will accumulate form within- little support, but aggression is biologically influenced by heredity, blood chemistry, brain (2) frustration causes anger and hostility (aggressive cues  provoke aggression), stems from gap between expectations and achievements, not from deprivation (3) social learning: through experience and observation, we learn that aggression pays (enables family, media and subculture influences on aggression) What are some influences on aggression? Aversive incidents Pain - Azrin: as soon as the rats felt shock/pain  attacked each other [↑shock↑violence of attack] - Animals would attack own species, different species, toys - ~intense heat, psychological pain (aka frustration)- not rewarding hungry pigeon that has been trained to expect a reward after pecking at a disk - Berkowitz: Students who had their hands placed in cold water (vs. warm water) were more irritable and more willing to blast at another person with unpleasant voice • Aversive stimulation rather than frustration is the trigger of hostile aggression • Frustration is a type of unpleasantness itself Heat - temporary climate changes can affect behaviour (e.g. offensive odours, cigarette smoke, pollution and HEAT) - William Griffitt (lab): students who answered questionnaires in a hot room (vs. normal) reported feeling more tired and aggressive, more hostility, pay back - Real world: • Hot: drivers w/o AC  honk more • # of batters hit by a pitch was 2/3 greater for games played at 32 C than for games played below 27C • Riots occurred more on hot days (none happened in winter) • Hot  violent crimes more likely • Hotter season of the year, hotter summers, hotter regions - Only correlations There may be other contributing factors (e.g. group influence factors) Attacks - being attacked or insulted by another  aggression - intentional attack breeds retaliatory attacks - Lab expt where one person competes w/ another [aka computer] in a reaction-time contest  winner chooses how much to shock loser - Computer steadily escalates amount of shock  consequently: “an eye for an eye” Arousal - other types of arousal (e.g. that accompany exercise, sex) same effect? - Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer (1962) • A given state of bodily arousal feeds one emotion or another, depending on how the person interprets and labels the arousal • Injected men with adrenaline  place with hostile or euphoric person • Forewarned that drug would have effects  little emotion • Told that there were no side effects  angered and amused respectively - Paul & Biner: aroused by bright lighting  find radio static unpleasant - Zillmann and Bryant: pumped an exercise bike.watched beatles rock concert film  easy to misattribute their arousal to a provocation - Just finished doing sports  drained aggressive tensions?  nope, arousal feeds emotions - Sexual arousal & other forms of arousal (e.g. anger)  amplify one another [Zillmann] • Fight or fright  passionate low, arousal of roller coaster  romantic feelings - Frustrating, hot, crowded or insulting situation  arousal  combine with hostile thoughts and feelings  aggressive Aggression cues - Berkowitz: weapon (cue)- • children played with toy guns  more willing to knock down another child’s blocks • men gave more electric shocks to their tormenter when a rifle and a revolver (“left over form pervious expt”) were nearby (vs. badminton racquets) - guns prime hostile thoughts and punitive judgments, esp if it’s perceived as an instrument of violence • doesn’t prime aggressive thoughts in hungers - privately owned guns  half of murders committed with guns • hand gun in homes more likely to kill household members than intruders • guns permits and stimulates violence • countries which ban gun use  lower murder rates • Americans are twice as likely as Canadians to use guns when they commit murder • Change in hand gun laws (e.g. DC)  gun-related murders dropped [no changes occurred in other methods of murder, areas outside didn’t experience drop] • Those who kept a gun were more likely to be murdered (by family) • Risk of suicide also higher • Guns  psychological distance between aggressor and victim (Milgram’s obedience studies: remoteness from victim facilitates cruelty) Media influences: pornography and sexual violence - Viewing fictional scenes of a man overpowering and arousing a woman can distort one’s perceptions of how women actually respond to sexual coercion and increase mens aggression against women (lab) Distorded perceptions of sexual reality - Malamuth and Check: showed university students (men) either 2 nonsexual movies or 2 movies depicting a man sexually overcoming a women • Week later  saw films w/ mild sexual violence  more accepting of violence against women - Pornography increases acceptance of rape myth - Mullin and Linz; men who spent 3 evenings watching sexually violent movies  progressively less bothered by raping and slashing  expressed less sympathy for domesti
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