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Chapter 11

chapter 11: Aggression

Course Code
Elizabeth Page- Gould

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Chapter 11: Aggression (Lecture 20)
What is Aggression?
Aggression: intentional behavior aimed at causing either physical or
psychological pain
Hostile aggression: an act of aggression stemming from feelings of anger and
aimed at inflicting pain
Instrumental aggression: aggression as a means to some goal other than
causing pain
E.g. professional football game, a defensive lineman will usually do whatever it
takes to thwart his opponent (the blocker) and tackle the ball carrier
oThis includes intentionally inflicting pain on his opponent if doing so is
useful in helping him get the blocker out of the way so he can get to the
ball carrier
Instrumental aggression
E.g. if believes his opponent has been playing dirty, he might become angry and
go out of his way to hurt the other player, even if doing so does not increase his
opportunity to tackle the ball carrier
oHostile aggression
Is Aggression Inborn or Learned?
Eros: the instinct toward life, posited by Freud
Thanatos: according to Freud, an instinctual drive toward death, leading to
aggressive actions
Freud believed that aggressive energy must come out somehow, lest it continue to
build up and produce illness
According to Freud, society performs an essential function in regulating this
instinct and in helping ppl to sublimate it- thats to turn the destructive energy
into acceptable or useful behavior
Is Aggression Instinctual? Situational? Optional?
The Evolutionary Argument
Males behave aggressively to establish dominance over other males
oFemale will choose the male who is most likely to provide the best genes
and the greatest protection and resources for offspring
Males aggress jealously to ensure that their mate arent copulating w/ others
oEnsures their paternity
Power is now based on attributes related to success such as high status careers,
wealth and celebrity and not the ability to physically intimidate other males in
the group
Aggression among the Lower Animals
Chimpanzee is known for the aggressive behavior of its male members
Humans, especially males, are genetically programmed for aggressive behavior
Aggression and Culture

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Chapter 11: Aggression (Lecture 20)
Changes in Aggression over Time
w/in a given culture, changing social conditions frequently lead to striking
changes in aggressive behavior
Aggression and a Culture of Honor
honor cultures: cultures that define male honor in terms of power, toughness,
and the ability to protect ones property
male honor cultures were more likely than participants from non- honor cultures
to believe that the infidelity of a female partner was damaging to the male
partners reputation and that his reputation could be restored through the use
of violence against her
Neural and Chemical Influences on Aggression
amygdala: an area in the core of the brain that is associated w/ aggressive
when the amygdale is stimulated, docile organisms become violent; when neural
activity in that area is blocked, violent organisms become docile
impact of neural mechanisms can be modified by social factors, even in
e.g. if a male monkey is in the presence of other, less dominant monkeys, he will
indeed attack the other monkeys when the amygdala is stimulated. But if the
amygdale is stimulated while the monkey is in the presence of more dominant
monkeys, he will not attack but instead will run away
testosterone: a male sex hormone associated w/ aggression
laboratory animals injected w/ testosterone became more aggressive
naturally occurring testosterone levels are significantly higher among prisoners
convicted of violent crimes than among those convicted of nonviolent crimes
Gender and Aggression
in everyday life situations, when nth special is going on, men behave far more
aggressively than women; but when ppl are subjected to frustration or insult,
women will react almost as aggressively as men
e.g. road rage, many men seem to regard being cut off in traffic as a personal
insult and respond aggressively; women are more likely to take such
occurrences in stride
Does the Target Make a Difference?
Mens aggression is generally directed at other men- friends or strangers
Mens aggression is also more likely to take place in bars or other public places,
more likely to involve alcohol consumption, and tends to have less of an
emotional impact
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