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Chapter 11

chapter 11- Aggression.doc

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Anna Nagy

Social Psychology: Chapter 11: Aggression What is Aggression? Aggression: Intentional behavior aimed at causing either physical or psychological pain. It can be physical or verbal aggression. The key component of aggression is intention; an act is viewed as aggressive only if it was intentional. E.g. a drunk driver hitting someone with their car is not considered aggression 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 There is still intentional hurting in instrumental aggression; however the hurting comes as a means to get some other goal. It does not involve hurting someone because of anger ex a football game, you don’t mean to tackle someone to inflict pain, you tackle them to get them out of your way so you can score a touchdown. Is Aggression Inborn or Learned? The evolutionary argument is that males are aggressive for two reasons: 1. To establish dominance over other males. Stems from the idea that females will choose the male who is most likely to provide the best genes 2. They will aggress “jealously” to make sure their mates are not copulating with others, to ensure their paternity Crime statistics provide evidence for the evolutionary argument, showing that males are most likely to engage in violence during their peak reproductive years (teens and twenties) Young males typically engage in aggressive acts when it comes to issues of respect or jealously Experiments on isolated rats show that aggression does not need to be learned, and that experience can modify aggression Chimpanzees and Bonobos, human’s closest relatives, are also known to be aggressive (especially chimpanzees). Chimps kill each other at the same rate as humans do in hunter-gatherer societies Although Bonobos are less aggressive than chimpanzees, they still engage in aggressive behavior in their natural habitat The universality of aggression points towards aggression being maintained because it has survival value. However all species developed mechanisms that allow them to inhibit aggression when it benefits them to do so Aggression and Culture Cross culturally, there is much difference in how populations demonstrate, allow, and tolerate aggressiveness. The history of Europe is, when condensed, one war after another, while primitive peoples and tribes live in peace, with very few acts of aggression Changes in social conditions often lead to changes in aggressive behavior Studies have shown that violence seems to be more acceptable in honor cultures i.e. cultures that define male honor in terms of power, toughness, and the ability to protect one’s property (e.g. Mediterranean, Latin and South American, Middle Eastern) Males from these cultures are more likely to believe that reputation is extremely important, and when questioned, it can be restored through the use of violence Within the U.S., white southern males are substantially more aggressive than white northern males; this has a lot to do with the ‘culture of honor’ in the Deep South In Canada, this code of honor exists in bouncers at clubs or bars. They are more likely to engage in excessive aggression when they perceive their authority or masculinity was being threatened Neural and Chemical Influences on Aggression In both humans and lower animals, aggressive behavior is related to increased brain activity in the amygdala. However social factors can influence this relationship If a male monkey’s amygdala is stimulated while in the presence of other, less dominant monkeys, the monkey will attack them If that same monkey is in the presence of more dominant monkeys, he will not attack them and run away Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is naturally released in the midbrain, seems to have inhibiting effects on impulsive aggression In animals and humans, disruptions in serotonin release is related to increased aggression; also in humans, criminals are known to have less serotonin than normal people Testosterone is associated with aggression in high levels; like serotonin, violent offenders are known to have more testosterone than normal. Juvenile delinquents also have higher testosterone than college students. than college students. However, overall there is a weak positive correlation between aggression and testosterone (0.14) Gender and Aggression In general, men are more aggressive than women. However, there is also a difference in how men and women display their aggression Men are more likely to use physical, overt means in their aggressive behavior, while women are more likely to use less violent, more indirect means (e.g. gossiping, rumor starting) Also, although men are more aggressive in regular day-to-day life, there is not much difference in men and women when they are provoked. Studies have found women are just as aggressive as men when they are provoked One explanation for this is that men are more likely than women to interpret ambiguous situations as threatening Over the past two decades, the rate of serious crimes committed by female adults has almost doubled, however men are still 5x more likely to be charged for a violent crime Men’s aggression is generally directed at other men (friends or strangers), is more likely to take place in bars or other public places, to involve alcohol consumption, and have less of an emotional impact Women’s aggression is more likely to be directed at a romantic partner, less likely to involve alcohol, and tends to have highly negative emotional impact Women are more likely to be physically aggressive towards their partners However women in long-term marriages are more likely to be victims; also a woman’s physical aggression is less likely to be serious The sex differences in aggression tend to hold up cross culturally. Australia and New Zealand produce the most violent responses in males (in a research study) Alcohol and Aggression The more people drink, the more likely they are to engage in aggression, especially severe forms of physical aggression Family violence is also associated with alcohol abuse. If a spouse drinks heavily, the rate of marital violence is six times higher than if a spouse drinks moderately or not at all There is also a relationship between child bullying and future alcohol use: both boys and girls who bullied others were almost five times more likely to report alcohol use than boys and girls who did not report bullying Alcohol can play a causal role in exacerbating relationship conflict Pain, Discomfort and Aggression Many studies have shown that pain and discomfort increase the likelihood that people will engage in violent acts It has been shown that increases in temperature lead to resolving conflicts more aggressively than usual, also they are more hostile to strangers Situational Causes of Aggression Frustration as a Cause of Aggression Frustration occurs when a person is thwarted on the way to an expected goal or gratification Frustration-Aggression Theory: the theory that frustration will increase the probability of an aggressive response Frustration will increase when your goal is thwarted when you almost reach your goal; this also increases the probability of aggression; also, frustration will increase when it is unexpected Frustration does not always produce aggression; rather it seems to produce anger or annoyance and a readiness to aggress if other things about the situatio
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