CH 12 AGGRESSION
Nov 20/ 2011
1. What is aggression?
Aggression - Aggression is intentional action aimed at doing harm or causing pain
- The action can be physical or verbal and might succeed in its goal or not.
- There are 2 kinds of aggression:
Hostile aggression 1. Hostile aggression: aggression stemming from feelings of anger and aimed
at inflicting pain
Instrumental aggression 2. Instrumental aggression: aggression as a means to some goal other than
o Ex. Hurt others to make yourself feel good
Violence - Violence is aggression that intends to cause extreme harm as its goal
Antisocial behaviour - Antisocial behaviour: aggressive behaviour that either damages interpersonal
relationships or is culturally undesirable – harms others or society.
Inborn / Learned Aggression - Hobbes viewed humans as naturally self-interested creatures who seek own well
Hobbes being even if this leads to aggressing against others
Rousseau - Rousseau argued the opposite and though humans were by nature compassionate
Freud loners and their behaviour is malleable; it changes with changes in the societies
within which humans live
- Thus, the brutish traits that Hobbes attributes to human nature are actually caused
by the type of society that Hobbes’s contemporaries lived in and not essential
- Freud theorized that humans are born with an instinct toward life (Eros) and an
instinct toward death (Thanatos), which strives to ruin and reduce life
- Aggressive energy must come out somehow, lest it continue to build up and
- This notion was characterized as a ‘hydraulic theory’ – similar to water pressure
building up in a container: unless energy is released, it will produce some sort of
- Society performs an essential function in regulating these instincts and in helping
people sublimate them
2. Internal Causes of - Factors that reside in aggressor
1. Hostile attribution bias: tendency to perceive ambiguous actions by others
Hostile cognitive biases
o Ex. If you’re joking with a friend and he’s teasing you, you might
think ‘he’s attacking me’
2. Hostile perception bias: Tendency to perceive social interaction in general
as being aggressive
o Ex. If your friends are talking loudly, you perceive it as an
argument and they’re getting ready for a fight
3. Hostile expectation bias: tendency to assume that people will react to
potential conflicts with aggression so you need to retaliate with aggression.
o Ex. You think ‘he will fight back’
- Frustration occurs when a person is thwarted on the way to an expected goal or
- Frustration-aggression theory: the idea that frustration increases the probability
of an aggressive response.
- Several factors increase aggression:
1. Closeness to the goal
- The closer to the goal, the greater the expectation of pleasure that is thwarted and
likelier the aggression
o Ex. Confederate cut in front of 2 person in line or 12 person, the
2 person was more aggressive.
2. Aggression also increases when the frustration is unexpected
o Ex. Students worked on a commission basis, they received a small
fraction of each dollar pledged
o Some students were led to believe they would be more successful or less but they didn’t know the experiment was rigged so none
o The callers with high expectations were more verbally aggressive
- Relative deprivation of a goal – if you have less than you deserve, less than what
you have been led to expect or less than what people similar to you have causes
3. Size/ Strength of person responsible for frustration or the ability of that
person to retaliate.
Neural and Chemical - Aggressive behaviors in humans as well as lower animals are associated with the
Influences on Aggression amygdala
- When the amygdala is stimulated, docile organisms become violent and when
activity is blocked, violent organisms become docile
- Social factors can modify neural mechanisms
o Ex. If a male monkey is in the presence of more dominant
monkeys, and his amygdala is stimulated, he will not attack but will
run away instead.
- Serotonin has an inhibiting effect on impulsive aggression
- Testosterone can cause aggression when there’s too much of it
- Boys appear to be more aggressive than girls in terms of physical violence
- Relational/ indirect/ passive aggression: girls tend to express their aggressive
Gender Difference feelings more covertly – by gossiping, engaging in more backbiting, and spreading
Maccoby & Jacklin false rumors about the target person
- In everyday life, men behave more aggressively than women
- But when people are subjected to frustration or insult, women will react almost as
aggressively as men
o Ex. Road rage: men are more likely to think of road rage as a threat
to their masculinity but women take such occurrences in stride.
- Even in other cultures, young men showed a greater tendency for violence.
- Although biochemical differences play a big role, culture can have some effect –
women from Australia and New Zealand showed greater evidence of
aggressiveness than men from Sweden/ Korea
- Of all the violent crimes committed against intimate partners, 22% were
committed by males and 3% were by females.
3. External Causes of
Alcohol - Alcohol lowers our inhibitions against acting in ways frowned on by society,
including acts of aggression
- Intoxicated people respond to the earliest and most obvious aspects of a social
situation and tend to miss the subtleties
- If an animal is in pain and cannot flee the scene, it will attack their own species,
different species or anything in sight.
o Students who underwent the pain of having their hand immersed in
cold water were more likely to act aggressively against other
- Bodily discomfort, such as heat, humidity, air pollution, and offensive odors lower
the threshold for aggressive behavior
Provocation - When provoked, people don’t always reciprocate because we want to evaluate
whether it was intentional or not and if there are mitigating circumstances,
counter-aggression will not occur
- When students were insulted by the experimenter’s assistant, those who were told
he was upset after receiving an unfair grade on a chemistry exam gave him smaller
zaps than those who were told after zapping the assistant.
Berkowitz and Le Page - The mere presence of an aggressive stimulus, like a gun can increase the
probability of aggression
- In this experiment, students were made angry in a room in which a gun was left
lying around and others were made angry in a room in which a neutral object (badminton racket) was substituted for the gun
- They were given the opportunity to administer what they believed were electric
shocks to a fellow college student and those in presence of gun gave more intense
- American teenagers were more likely to anticipate a violent conclusion to the
conflict of a story than other cultures because they have an expectation that lethal
violence is a major part of American society.
Bandura - Social learning theory : the idea that we learn social behaviour by observing
- An adult knocked around a plastic, air-filled Bobo doll – strike it with mallet, kick