Chapter 13: Aggression
Aggression is an intentional action aimed at doing harm or causing pain to another living being
who is motivated to avoid such treatment.
o Hostile aggression is done with the intention of directly inflicting harm onto an
o Instrumental aggression is harming an individual in the process of attaining some other
SITUATIONAL DETERMINANTS OF AGGRESSION______________________________________
Provocation We tend to respond to direct provocation with aggression, and often act more
aggressively in relation to the initial provocation (ex. the gang quote “if you
stab me, I’ll shoot you”
We tend to not reciprocate aggressively if we attribute provocations to
unintentional factors (i.e. It was only an accident)
Frustration Frustration is the internal state that accompanies the thwarting of an attempt
to achieve some goal.
Aggression increases in direct proportion to these 4 factors:
o The amount of satisfaction the person anticipates receiving from
meeting their goal
o How completely the person is prevented from achieving their goal
o How frequently the person is blocked from achieving their goal
o How close the individual believes they are to achieving their goal
In a study, a confederate cut in front of a participant waiting in line to see a
movie. The participant wasndither 2 in line or 12 in line.
The participants who were 2 acted more aggressively towards the
Heat Social theorists observed that violent crime rates are higher when the
temperatures are hotter.
People are also more violent during hot months, such as July and August.
Murder and rape increase during the summer months.
Major league baseball pitchers are more likely to hit batters as the weather gets
hotter and hotter.
Why do high temperatures make people more aggressive? There are two
o The first explanation is that people are aroused by hotter
temperatures, but they are largely unaware that the heat is the source
of their arousal. When they encounter circumstances that prompt
anger – for example, a frustrating driver – they misattribute their
arousal to that person, giving rise to an amplified feeling of anger and
o Another explanation is that heat triggers not just undifferentiated
arousal, but specific feelings of anger in particular that increase the
likelihood of all kinds of aggressive behaviour. Alcohol Marital violence is 4 to 6 times more likely if a partner is an alcoholic.
Both boys and girls who bully others are 5 times more likely to report alcohol
use than those who do not bully.
In an experimental study, male participants in heterosexual relationships were
asked to describe a current conflict in their relationship. Group one drank vodka
to Ontario’s legal limit, and the control group consumed a drink that smelled
and tasted like alcohol, but was not alcoholic.
Intoxicated participants reported more negative feelings than those who were
Social Exclusion In an experiment, participants were asked to chat with 4-5 other members for
15 minutes and asked to write down the names of people they would like to
work in a group task with.
In one condition, the participant was told “everyone wants to work with you”.
In the second, the participant was told “no one wanted to work with you”.
Later, the participants played a computer game with a new person. The
participants had the choice of blasting the confederate with a loud noise.
Participants who were rejected in the first task were more likely to act
aggressively towards the confederate and blast them with noise.
Why might social exclusion cause people to become more aggressive? One
explanation states that in our evolutionary past, being rejected by the group
had many negative effects, since we are so dependent on others for food,
shelter, defense, and affection. Thus, being socially rejected triggers a threat
defense system, specifically an increase in defensive aggressive tendencies.
Social rejection also stimulates the feeling of pain. People who feel rejected
report higher levels of chronic physical pain, physical ailments, and even
greater pain during childbirth. fMRI scans show that the part of the brain that
corresponds to physical pain is activated when a person experiences social
Aggressive Cues An increase in aggressive cues (such as guns and other weapons) can cause
people to act more violently.
Homicide rates in countries all over the world are highly correlated with the
availability of handguns.
In a study, participants were put in a room with a shock machine. They were
made angry and were allowed to administer shocks in return. There were three
conditions. In the first condition, there was a gun beside the shock machine. In
the second, there was a badminton racket beside the machine, and in the third,
there was no object beside the machine.
Participants who were exposed to the gun were more likely to become
aggressive and use the shock machine.
Income Inequality Murder rates in countries with high levels on income inequality are higher than
countries with low income inequality.
Powerful feelings of social rejection felt by individuals at the bottom in unequal
societies might trigger violence. Media Violence
The Western med