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Chapter 11

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PSYC 260
James Climenhage

Chapter 11: Aggression What is Aggression Aggression – Intentional behavior aimed at causing either physical or psychological pain - Aggression might be physical or verbal – important: the intention Hostile Aggression – an act of aggression stemming from feelings of anger and aimed at inflicting pain or injury Instrumental Aggression – aggression as a means to some goal other than causing pain Is Aggression Inborn or Learned? Some researchers – aggression is inborn and an instinctive phenomenon - Others – aggressive behavior must be learned - Thomas Hobbes in book Leviathan – human states, in our natural state, are brutes and that only by enforcing the law and order of society could we curb our natural instinct toward aggression o Freud – human beings are born with an instinct toward life – called eros  Thanatos – an instinctual drive toward death, leafing to aggressive actions  Freud – we need to turn the destructive energy into acceptable or useful behavior Is Aggression Instinctual? Situational? Optional? The Evolutionary Argument – aggression is genetically programmed into men because it enables them to perpetuate their genes - Men are theorized to aggress for 2 reasons: o 1. Males behave aggressively to establish dominance over other males  Female will choose the male who is most likely to provide the best genes and the greatest protection and resources for offspring o 2. Males aggress ‘jealously’ to ensure that their mates(s) are not copulating with others  Ensures their paternity - Receives support from crime statistics – shows males are most likely to engage in violence during their peak reproductive years – their teens and twenties - Now power is based on attributes related to success like high-status careers, wealth, and celebrity o Before: the ability to physically intimidate other males in the group Aggression among Animals When prey and predator animals become friends – shows that aggressive nature can be inhibited - Aggression can be modified but it does not need to be learned Through chimpanzee conclude: humans, especially males, are genetically programmed for our aggressive behavior - Bonobos – aggression is an optional strategy - whether it is expressed is determined by the animal’s previous social experiences and by specific social context they find themselves in Aggression and Culture Aggression is an optional strategy – social situation is extremely important - For humans, innate patterns of behavior are infinitely modifiable and flexible - Cross-cultural studies show: human cultures vary widely in their degree of aggressiveness Changes in Aggression over Time Within a given culture, changing social conditions frequently lead to striking changes in aggressive behavior - Aggressiveness can come about because a social change produced increases in competition Aggression and a Culture of Honour Violence may be seen as more acceptable in honour cultures - Cultures that define male honour in terms of power, toughness, and the ability to protext one’s property - Found participants from male honour cultures were more likely than participants from non-honour cultures to believe that the infidelity of a female partner was damaging to the male partner’s reputation and that his reputation could be restored through the use of violence against her o Belief that female partner should remain loyal, even if her male partner was violent Neural and Chemical Influences on Aggression Amygdala – area in the core of the brain that is associated with aggressive behavior - When stimulated, docile organism become violent - When neural activity in that area is blocked, violent organisms become docile - The impact of neural mechanism can be modified by social factors, even in subhumans Certain chemicals have shown to influence aggression as well: - Serotonin – chemical in the brain that may inhibit aggressive impulses (occurs in midbrain) o When flow of serotonin is disrupted, aggressive behavior usually follows - Testosterone – male sex hormone associated with aggression o Too little serotonin or too much testosterone can lead to aggressive behavior o Violent crime prisoners usually have higher levels of naturally occurring testosterone than prisoners who committed nonviolent crimes o Testosterone fluctuates depending on situational factors  Is modifiable by the situation the person is in Gender and Aggression Men/boys are more aggressive than woman/girls - Girls tend to express their aggressive feelings more covertly – gossiping, backbiting, false rumours - Aggressive differences becomes smaller when men and women are provoked - Women are more likely to be arrested for property crimes than violent crimes Does the Target make a Difference? Situational factor: the target of aggression - Men’s target: other men, likely to take place in bars or other public places, more likely to involve alcohol consumption - Women’s target: a romantic partner Important qualifies: 1. Men are much more likely to engage in more severe forms of violence than are women 2. Women are much more likely to suffer serious physical injury at the hands of their male partner than the other way around 3. Male violence does more emotional and psychological damage than female violence Does Culture Make a Difference? Sex differences in aggressive behavior tend to hold up across cultures - In every culture studied, young men showed a greater tendency toward violent solutions to conflict than did young women - Culture also played important role – in western cultures, women were more aggressive Alcohol and Aggression Alcohol is a social lubricant that lowers people’s inhibitions against committing behaviours frowned upon by society – including aggression Research showed: people who tend to be physically aggressive to behin with are more likelyt o report getting into fights when drinking, as are people who say that they drink in order to get drunk or high (rather than for social reasons) - More aggressive behavior when alcohol was consumed at a bar or party, rather than at home - Family violence is often associated with alcohol use o With alcohol, violence is more likely to happen and also tends to be more severe - Stage for alcohol related aggression is set early on - Causal conclusion cannot be drawn from correlational data (which is above) Laboratory study: when individuals ingest enough alcohol to make them legally drunk, they tend to respond more violently to provocation than do those who have ingested little or no alcohol Another experiment concluded in that alcohol can play a causal role in creating relationship conflict Pain, Discomfort, and Aggression Bodily discomfort, like heat, humidity, air pollution, and offensive odours, might act to lower the threshold for aggressive behavior Recent research: simply being exposed to heat-related words is enough to increase aggressive thoughts Situational Causes of Aggression Certain social situations are also conductive to aggression Frustrat
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