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Chapter 9

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Chapter 9: Aggression and Antisocial Conduct What is Aggression? Aggression as an Instinct  Hostile, aggressive energy would build up to a critical level and then be discharged through some form of violent, destructive behaviour. Behavioural and Intentional Definitions of Aggression  Behavioural definitions of aggression: any action that delivers noxious stimuli to another organism.  Intentional definition of aggression: any action intended to harm or injure another living being, who is motivated to avoid such treatment.  Hostile aggression: aggressive acts for which the perpetrator’s major goal is to harm or injure a victim.  Instrumental aggression: aggressive acts for which the perpetrator’s major goal is to gain access to objects, space, or privileges. Aggression as a Social Judgment  Aggression is really a social label that we apply to various acts, guided by our judgments about the meaning of those acts to us. Theories of Aggression Instinct Theories Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory  According to Freud, aggressive energy can be discharged in a socially acceptable fashion through vigorous work or play, or through less desirable activities such as insulting others, fighting, or destroying property. Lorenz’s Ethological Theory of Aggression  Lorenz argues that humans and animals have a basic fighting (aggressive) instinct that is directed against members of the same species.  Aggression can help most species survive because they have evolved various instinctual inhibitions that prevent them from killing members of their own kind. A Critique of Instinct Theories  Our capacity for empathy, and the sympathetic emotions it may foster, is itself a product of human evolution and is (or can become) a powerful inhibitor of aggression. Learning Theories  Frustration/aggression hypothesis: early learning theory of aggression, holding that frustration triggers aggression and that all aggressive acts can be traced to frustrations. Berkowitz’s Revised Frustration/Aggression Hypothesis  Aggressive cues must be present before an angry person will behave aggressively.  Aggressive cues hypothesis: the presence of stimuli previously associated with aggression can evoke aggressive responses from an angry individual. Bandura’s Social-Learning Theory  Observational learning: a cognitive process whereby children attend to and retain in memory the aggressive responses they see others commit.  Direct experience: reinforced for aggressive behaviour will be more likely to resort to aggression in the future. How is Aggression Maintained?  Highly aggressive children have presumably learned that the use of force is an effective and efficient means to other ends.  Aggressive habits often persist because they are (1) instrumental to the satisfaction of other goals, (2) useful as a means of terminating other’s noxious behaviours, (3) socially sanctioned by aggressive peers, and (4) even intrinsically rewarding for the aggressor. Internal Arousal and Aggressive Behaviour  Any kind of internal arousal may be more a catalyst for rather than an instigator for aggression. Evaluating Bandura’s Theory  Proactive aggressors: highly aggressive children who find aggressive acts easy to perform and who rely heavily on aggression as a means of solving social problems or achieving other personal objectives.  Reactive aggressors: children who display high levels of hostile, retaliatory aggression because they overattribute hostile intents to others and can’t control their anger long enough to seek nonaggressive solutions to social problems. Dodge’s Social Information-Processing Theory  Will first encode and interpret the immediate cues.  Child must then formulate a goal, generate and evaluate possible strategies for achieving this goal, and finally, select and enact a response.  Many youngsters take mental shortcuts, skipping certain steps or working on two or more at the same time.  Hostile attributional bias: tendency to view harm done under ambiguous circumstances as having stemmed from a hostile intent on the part of the harm-doer; characterizes reactive aggressors. Evaluating Dodge’s Theory  This social-cognitive model is most useful in helping to understand why children and adolescents might behave aggressively in particular social situations rather than informing us about why children become aggressive (or nonaggressive) in the first place and how they acquire the information- processing biases that they come to display. Developmental Trends in Aggression Early Conflict and the Origins of Aggression  Conflicts: circumstance in which two (or more) persons have incompatible needs, desires, or goals.  Toddlers do become more physically aggressive between their first and second birthdays, they are also becoming better at resolving conflicts in nonaggressive ways. Age-Related Changes in the Nature of Aggression Aggression During the Preschool Period  Unfocused temper tantrums diminish during the preschool period and are uncommon after age 4.  The incidence of forceful, oppositional behaviours normally peas at about 3 years of age and very gradually declines over the preschool period.  2-3 year olds are likely to hit, bite, or kick and adversary.  Older preschoolers show less physical aggression as they choose instead to tease, taunt, tattle and call their victim uncomplimentary names.  Children are likely to learn from their own experiences that negotiation and sharing can be relatively painless and efficient methods of achieving objective that they used to attempt through shows of force, without undermining their relationships with playmates. Aggression During the Grade-School Years  Older children are becoming more proficient role-takers and thus are better able to infer the motives and intentions of other people.  Retaliatory aggression: aggressive acts elicited by real or imagined provocations. Perpetrators and Victims of Childhood Aggression  17% of students reported having been bullied at least sometimes during the school year.  19% reported bullying others at least sometimes.  6% did both.  Boys more likely to be bully and victimized than girls were.  Boys physically bullied, girls verbally bullied.  Bullies were more likely to smoke, drink and be poor students.  Passive victims: socially withdrawn, sedentary, physically weak, and reluctant to fight back, and appear do little to invite the hostilities they receive.  Provocative victims: oppositional, restless, and hot-tempered individuals who often irritated peers, were inclined to fight back when picked on, and who displayed the hostile attributional bias that characterizes reactive aggressors.  Bully/victims: a small subset of children who are often bullied and who, in turn, often bully their more positive peers. Aggression and Antisocial Conduct in Adolescence  Teenage boys become more inclined to act out their anger and frustrations indirectly through such acts as theft, truancy, substance abuse, mal
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