Textbook Notes for Chapter 10 (aggression)

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Published on 27 Jun 2011
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UTSG
Department
Psychology
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PSY220H1
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PSY220H1 SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY CHAPTER 10 NOTES
AGGRESSION
What is Aggression?
-aggressionphysical or verbal behaviour intended to cause harm
-excludes unintentional harm and actions which may involve pain as an unavoidable side effect (eg. dental
treatments)
-two types of aggression:
-hostile aggressiondriven by anger and performed as an end in itself
-eg. Most murders (impulsive, emotional outbursts)
-instrumental aggression a means to some other conflict
-eg. Terrorist acts (strategic tool used during conflict)
Theories of Aggression
Aggression as a biological phenomenon
Instinct theory and evolutionary psychology
-Sigmund Freud and Konrad Lorenz saw aggressive energy as instinctual (innate, unlearned and universal)
-Freudhuman aggression comes from a self-destructive impulse (a primitive death urge...the death instinct)
-Lorenzaggressive as adaptive rather than self-destructive
-flaws of instict theory:
-explaining by naming”
-fails to account for variation in aggressiveness
-evolutionary psychologyaggression is adaptive
-agression as a strategy (gaining resources, defending against attack, intimidating male rivals for females)
- explains the high levels of male-male aggression in human history
Neural Influences
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-not controlled by one spot of the brain
-although specific brain areas increase hostile behaviour when activated
-eg. When a female patient received painless electrical stimulation in her amygdala, she became enraged and
lashed out with hostility
-diff between normal people and violent people brains?
-PFC (acts like an emergency brake on deeper brain areas involved in aggressive behaviour)
-less active in murderers...smaller in antisocial men
Genetic Influences
-affects how sensitive the neural system is to aggressive cues
-aggressiveness in the family (animals can be bred ot be aggressive)
-of convicted criminals who are twins, half of their identical twins also have criminal records
-temperament you were born with usually endures (nonaggressive as a young kid usually means nonaggressive as an adult)
-interaction of nature + nurture
-presence of a gene that alters neurotransmitter balance with childhood maltreatment
-makes child more sensitive and responsive to maltreatment
Biochemical Influences
-alcohol
-enhances aggressiveness by reducing self-awareness and ability to consider consequences (deindividuates and
disinhibits)
-testosterone
-effect on aggressiveness greater in lower animals than in humans
-administering a drug that decreases testosterone levels also decreases aggressive tendencies
-testosterone levels higher among prisoners convicted of planned and unprovoked violent crimes
-men with low testosterone are less likely to respond aggressively when provoked
-low serotonin
-serotonin receptors in the impulse controlling frontal lobes
-low serotonin levels in violence-prone children and adults
-biology and behaviour interact
-traffic between biochem and behaviour flows both ways
-dominating or defeating behaviour boosts testosterone levels
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-Eg. After a World Cup match, supporters of the winning team see a rise in their testosterone levels
(whereas the losers see a fall)
Aggression as a response to frustration
-frustration-aggression theoryfrustration triggers a readiness to aggress
-frustrationthe blocking of a goal-directed behaviour
-especially felt when motivation to achieve goal is strong, gratification is expected and blocking is complete
-not necessarily directed at the source of aggression
-displacementredirection of aggression to a target other than the source of the frustration (new target is
generally safer or more socially acceptable)
-Eduardo Vasquez studyhad an experimenter mildly insult the performance of some subjects on a task (other subjects
received no such provocation). All subjects had to decide how long another supposed subject was so submerge their hand
in cold water while completing a task. The provoked subjects recommended a longer colder-water treatment than those
who were unprovoked.
Revision
-frustration does not always lead to increased aggressiveness
-eg. If the frustration is understandable, only mild irritation will result
-eg. If the person who frustrates us, apologizes, accepts responsibility, or tries to make amends, then we’re less
likely to act aggressively
-anger there when we know the person who frustrated us could have chosen to act otherwise
Frustration and deprivation
-frustration in the eye of the beholder...does not need to be rational
-eg. Marc Lepine and the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal Massacre
-political revolutions
-as nations become modernized, people become more aware of potential material improvementsincreasing gap
between expectations and attainments intensifies frustration
-relative deprivationperception that one is less well off than others to whom one compares oneself
-especially in people with shaky self-esteem
Aggression as a Learned Social Behaviour
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Document Summary

Aggressionphysical or verbal behaviour intended to cause harm. Excludes unintentional harm and actions which may involve pain as an unavoidable side effect (eg. dental treatments) Hostile aggressiondriven by anger and performed as an end in itself. Instrumental aggression a means to some other conflict. Eg. terrorist acts (strategic tool used during conflict) Sigmund freud and konrad lorenz saw aggressive energy as instinctual (innate, unlearned and universal) Freudhuman aggression comes from a self-destructive impulse (a primitive death urgethe death instinct ) Agression as a strategy (gaining resources, defending against attack, intimidating male rivals for females) Explains the high levels of male-male aggression in human history. Not controlled by one spot of the brain. Although specific brain areas increase hostile behaviour when activated. Eg. when a female patient received painless electrical stimulation in her amygdala, she became enraged and lashed out with hostility. Pfc (acts like an emergency brake on deeper brain areas involved in aggressive behaviour)