PSY 220 CH.13
• Hostile aggression: Behaviour intended to harm another, either physically or
psychologically, and motivated by feelings of anger and hostility.
• Instrumental aggression: Behaviour intended to harm another in the service of motives
other than pure hostility (for example, to acquire wealth, or to advance political and
• Many acts of aggression involve a mix of instrumental and hostile motives.
Situational Determinants of Aggression
• The right mix of situational factors can give rise to violence.
• Certain genes may predispose people to aggression, but it is a mix of nature and nurture
that ultimately determines how aggressive an individual may become.
• People have long believed that moods and actions are tied to weather. Most widely
assumed, is the connection between heat and aggression.
• There have been found to be higher rates of crime violence in hotter areas.Also found
that people are more violent during the hotter months of the year.Also, baseball pitchers
are more likely to hit the batters in hotter weather, and even more likely if the opposing
pitcher has done it earlier.
• Climate change consequences, as the temperature of the earth increases, so may the
aggression. Looking at El Nińo, where the weather is especially hot and dry in tropical
countries, there was a dramatic increase in conflict.
• According to the misattribution perspective, people are aroused by the heat, but they are
largely unaware of the cause for their arousal.And when they encounter circumstances
that prompt anger, they attribute their arousal to that person, and this misattributed
arousal gives rise to amplified feelings of anger and aggression.
• Another possibility is that heat triggers not just undifferentiated arousal, but specific
feelings of anger in particular – angry feelings that increase the likelihood of all kinds of
• Evidence supports the premise that exposure to media violence increases aggressive
• Copycat violence is imitation of specific violent acts depicted in the media. One of the
most extreme examples is copycat suicide in which the number of suicides increase after
another suicide, and the rate is related to how much media attention the initial suicide
• An example of copycat violence is when John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate
President Ronald Reagan. What is shocking though, is that he had watched the movie
Taxi Driver (Robert De Niro acts as a violent sociopath who attempts to kill a politician
to win the love of a prostitute, played by Jodie Foster). In Hinckley’s hotel room was a
letter addressed to Jodie Foster saying that he was going to kill the President for her. • Studies have shown increases in violent tendencies towards confederates after watching
• People tend to be more aggressive after seeing films in which they identify with the
perpetrator of the violent act. Also more aggressive after seeing a film that depicted
justified violence.Also, if participants are led to focus on another aspect of the film, say
artistic elements, they are less likely to be aggressive.
• Study:Assessed the television viewing habits of 211 boys from childhood to adulthood.
Looked into if the boys’preferences for violent media at age 8 correlated to more
criminal activity at age 30. To rule out aggressive boys watching violent TV, they looked
at pure relations between violent TV watched at age 8 and subsequent aggressive
behaviour. Results showed that boys who liked violent TV when young were more likely
to commit a violent act later in life.
Violent Video Games
• Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold played excessive amounts of violent video games. Harris
even created a version where he had unlimited ammo and guns to gun down arrays of
helpless victims. In 1999, they planted bombs and took several guns to school,
Columbine High School, and killed classmates and a teacher, then themselves.
• Experiment: 43 undergraduate men and women with average video game experience
were assigned to either Mortal Kombat or PGATournament Golf. They played these
games against a confederate, and when the confederate lost, the participants punished
them with a burst of white noise. Those playing Mortal Kombat, gave longer and more
• Conclusions reached across many studies are that playing video games 1) increase
aggressive behaviour; 2) reduces pro-social behaviour; 3) increases aggressive thoughts;
4) increases aggressive emotions; and 5) increases blood pressure and heart rate.
Social Rejection and Aggression
• Another hypothesis that emerged as to the reason of the Columbine shooting was social
rejection. Follow-up studies agreed that school shooters tend to feel rejected by their
• Evolutionary standpoint is that social rejection was a death sentence as we needed others
to survive. So social rejection activates a threat defense system which involve many
things, including aggressive tendencies.
• Social rejection can trigger feelings of pain, distress, shame, self-doubt, and submissive
behaviour. Has been found through brain imaging that social rejection activates the
anterior cingulate, which gets activated when experiencing physical pain.
• Some researchers think a greater economic inequality – the difference between the
highest and lowest paid people – leads to increased violence.
• In countries that measure high in economic inequality, there are more reported acts of
violence. This pattern repeats itself at the states level as well.
• Some believe that the powerful feelings of social rejection felt by individuals at the
bottom in unequal societies might trigger violence.
• Evolutionary scientists contend that inequality throws males into competition for
economic resources and access to women – two sources of conflict that often lie behind
murder and other crimes. Box 13.3
• Greener areas enable a higher level of concentration in individuals and provides a feeling
• So might greener areas reduce violence? Studies have shown lower likelihoods of
violence in areas with greater greenery.
Construal Processes and Aggression
• Seeing the world through a lens of anger is a powerful cause of aggressive behaviour.
The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis
• Frustration: The internal state that accompanies the thwarting of an attempt to achieve
• Proposal that aggression increases in direct proportion to 1) the amount of satisfaction the
person anticipates receiving from meeting the goal, 2) how completely the person is
prevented from achieving the goal, 3) how frequently the person is blocked from
achieving the goal, and 4) how close the individual believes he or she is to achieving the
Critiques of the Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis
• First criticism called into question the hypothesis that all aggressive behaviours follows
from frustration. How would they explain the relationship between heat and aggression?
There are cases in which frustration is not involved in aggressive behaviour.
• Learned helplessness: Passive and depressed responses that individuals show when their
goals are blocked and they feel that they have no control over their outcome.
• Another problem is that frustration does not necessarily lead to aggression. The most
common alternate response to frustration is learned helplessness.
• It is not just having our goals blocked that leads to aggression; it is how we interpret the
events that seem to prevent us from reaching our goals.Acts that we construe as being
intentionally harmful are more likely to make us aggressive.
• The neo-associationistic account of aggression maintains that anger-related construals are
the key process that makes people respond aggressively to aversive stimuli (pain, hunger,
• The critical determinant is whether the event produces unpleasant feelings of anger. Once
anger is activated, it leads to thoughts and feelings that make