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Chapter 10

PSYCH 2C03 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Leonard Berkowitz, Handgun, Sexual Arousal

Course Code
Jennifer Ostovich

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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
-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
-Freud (human aggression springs from self-destructive impulse) & Lorenz (adaptive)
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

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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
-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]
-stronger in lower animals
-aggressiveness correlates with testosterone
-drugs that diminish testosterone subdue aggressive tendencies [less likely to be
-after 25 testosterone and violent behaviour decreases tgt
-testosterone levels higher among prisoners who convicted planned and unprovoked
-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
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

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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
-like the 1970s where naked spectators streaked onto football fields for TV exposure
ignored ended
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