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Chapter 14

Chapter 14

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PSYC 2450
Erin Allard

Chapter 14—Aggression, Altruism, and Moral Development The Development of Aggression – An aggressive act is any form of behaviour designed to harm or injure a living being who is motivated to avoid such treatment – Hostile aggression (harm or injure a victim) and instrumental aggression (gain access to objects, space or privileges) Origins of Aggression in Infancy – Young infants can be forceful with each other when one infant controls a toy that the other wants—even when duplicates were available, 12 month olds occasionally ignored these unused objects and tried to overpower a peer to gain control of the toy – Early conflicts need not be training grounds for aggression and can even be adaptive, serving as a context where infants, toddlers and preschool children can learn to negotiate and to achieve their aims – Japanese preschoolers are less angered by interpersonal conflicts and less likely to respond aggressively than American children Developmental Trends in Aggression – Unfocused temper tantrums become less and less common between ages 2 to 3 as children begin to physically retaliate when playmates frustrate or attack them but then this declines between ages 3 and 5—only to be replaced by teasing, tattling, name calling and other verbal forms – Some level of physical aggression is normal early in toddlerhood but rare by middle childhood – Elementary school children are reluctant to condemn retaliatory aggression (fighting back) as a normal response to provocation – Parents play rougher with boys than with girls and react more negatively to the aggressive behaviours of daughters than to those of sons – Fighting and overt easily detectable forms of aggression continues to decline from middle childhood to teen years – Relational aggression is girls becomes more subtle and malicious during the adolescent years and teenage boys become more inclined to express their anger and frustrations indirectly through such acts as theft, truancy, substance abuse and sexual misconduct – The amount of moody, ill tempered, aggressive behaviour children display between ages 3 and 10 is a good predictor of their aggressive or antisocial inclinations later in life Individual Differences in Aggressive Behaviour – Small minority are involved in large majority of conflicts – Handful of highly aggressive instigators and the 10-15% of their classmates who are regularly abused by these bullies – Proactive aggressors are confident that aggression will pay off in tangible benefits (control of a toy) and they are inclined to believe that they can enhance their self esteem by dominating other children, who generally submit before serious harm is done (instrumental strategy) – Reactive aggressors display high levels of hostile, retaliatory aggression— suspicious and wary of others, viewing them as belligerent adversaries who deserve to be dealt with forcefully – Childs reponse depends on 6 cognitive steps: youngster encodes and interprets the social cues, formulates a goal, generates and evaluates possible strategies for achieving this goal, selects and enacts a response – The childs mental state, knowledge of social rules, emotional reactivity, and ability to regulate emotions, can influence any of the models 6 phases of info processing – The mental state of reactive aggressors include an expectancy that others are hostile to me—more likely to aggress after information processing – Girls can be as reactively aggressive as boys, displaying the same kind of hostile attributional bias and a strong readiness to react aggressively to ambiguous harmdoing – Proactive aggressors display a different pattern of social info processing—not so inclined to quickly attribute hostile intent to a harmdoer but they are likely to formulate a goal and coolly and consciously decide that an aggressive response is likely to be most effective at achieving this aim, they display emotions like happiness during aggressive encounters – 17 of students report being bullied at least sometimes during the school year, 19% report bullying others at least sometimes, 6% report being a bully and being bullied – Boys were more likely to be bullies and victims – Boys were more likely to be physically bullied whereas girls were more likely to be verbally bullied or abused in psychological ways – Frequent early in adolescence and equally common in urban, suburban and rural areas – Bullies were more likely to smoke, drink and be poor students – Habitual bullies often observe adult conflict and aggression at home but have rarely themselves been the target of aggression – Passive victims are socially withdrawn, sedentary, physically weak, and reluctant to fight back, and appear to do little to invite the hostilities they receive – Proactive victims are oppositional, restless, hot tempered and irritating, they fight back and display the hostile attributional bias that characterizes reactive aggressors – Victimized children are at risk for loneliness, anxiety, depression, further erosion of self-esteem, dislike for and avoidance of school Cultural and Subcultural Influences on Aggression – United states is an aggressive society—the incidence of rape, homicide, and assault is higher than in any other industrialized nation, 2ndto spain for armed robbery – Children and teens from lower socioeconomic strata (SES) particularly males from larger urban areas, exhibit more aggressive behaviour and higher levels of delinquency than their age-mates from the middle class – Parents from lower-income families are more likely than middle-class parents to rely on physical punishment to discipline aggression and defiance, thereby modelling aggression even as they try to suppress it, also more likely to endore aggression solutions to conflict and encourage responding forcefully, they also live stressful complex lives they make it difficult for them to monitor their childrens whereabouts, activities and choice of friends Coercive Home Environments: Breeding Grounds for Aggression – Highly aggressive children live in atypical family environments that were characterized by a social climate that they had helped to create—where families are constantly bickered with one another, reluctant to initiate conversations and tended to needle, threaten or irritate other family members rather than talk amiably (coercive home environments) – Negative reinforcement is important to maintain these interactions, when one family member makes life unpleasant for another, the second learns to whine, yell and scream because these actions force the antagonist to stop (reinforced) – Mothers of problem children rarely use social approval as a means of behaviour control, choosing instead to largely ignore prosocial conduct, to interpret many innocuous acts as antisocial, and rely almost exclusively on coercive tactics to deal with perceived misconduct – The flow of influence in the family setting is multidirectional—coercive interactions between parents and their children and the children themselves affect the behaviour of all parties and contribute to the development of a hostile family environment (breeding ground for aggression) Methods of Controlling Aggression in Young Children – Create play areas that minimize the likelihood of conflict—remove aggressive toys, provide ample space, provide balls, slides swings in ample amounts so children don’t have to compete – For proactive aggressors, teach them that aggression doesn’t pay and that alternative prosocial responses (cooperation or sharing) are better ways to achieve their objectives—identify and eliminate the reinforcing consequence and encourage alternative means of achieving ones objectives – Hot headed reactive aggressors may profit more from programs that teach them to control their anger and suppress their tendency to overattribute hostile intentions to companions who displease them – The imcompatible-response technique is a strategy of ignoring all but the most serious of Lennies aggressive antics (denying an attentional reward) while reinforcing such acts as cooperation and sharing that are incompatible
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