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Chapter 12

Social Psychology (Cdn Ed) Sanderson & Safdar Chapter 12

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Ashley Waggoner Denton

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Chapter 12: Aggression -describe factors that explain aggressive behavior in N. American context and cross culturally Types of Aggression -Emotional Agression: aggression inflicted simply to cause harm (jealous lover striking out in rage) -Instrumental Aggression: inflicting harm to obtain some goals or something of value (ppl who kill others in self defense, or gain money) Definition of Aggression -aggression: physical or verbal behavior that is intended to harm another individual who is motivated to acoid such treatment 1. Aggression is behavior that harms others 2. Harming others is intentional rather than accidental 3. The victim of the aggressive behavior is motivated to avoid the harm • Aggressive acts don’t include accidents, assertive acts, but include acts where was intention to harm even without any actual harm How Do Biological Factors Influence Aggression? -in male prisons, men who had committed violent crimes (e.g. rape and assault), had higher testosterone levels than men who had committed property crimes (burglary and theft) -men with higher testosterone had violated more rules while in prison • Suggests that testosterone levels are associated with men’s aggressive behavior Instinct and Evolutionary Theories -theories that view aggression as innate share common property: describe something within the person as being responsible for aggressive tendencies Freud’s Death Wish -Freud believed that ppl possess powerful death wish or drive; to cope with this unconscious desire, ppl channel this energy is two ways (1) turn this energy inward and engage in self destructive behavior or (2) turn this energy outward and engage in aggression against other ppl -Freud saw aggression as type of energy that builds up over time until it’s released, process called catharsis -Catharsis: release of suppressed energy of emotion -evidence suggests that catharsis may not be effective to deal w/ aggressive feelings: • Ppl who were asked to kill one bug initially (in practice task) later killed fewer bugs during extermination task than those who asked to kill five bugs during practice task o Higher levels of initial aggressive behavior can lead to increasing levels of aggression later on Lorenz’s Instinct Theory of Aggression -theory says that aggression is an innate biological drive -this instinct develops bc only aggressive animals can ensure that they and offspring can survive (by getting food etc.) -his theory and other evolutionary psychologists says that drive for aggression is evolutionarily adaptive; suggest that this is why in all societies men are more aggressive than women -also explains why parents more likely to abuse and murder stepchildren, and why sexual jealously often leads to aggression -women are at substantial risk of experiencing aggression at the hands of loved one, greater than men; rates of spousal abuse highest for those age 15-24, those in relatinoships of 3 years or less, those who had separated and those in common-law unions -a type of aggression women more likely than men to experience is sexual assault • Only 1/10 sexual assaults reported to police • Saskatchewan highest rate, P.E.I lowest for the provinces but overall, sexual offences highest for Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon • Most assaults involve unwanted sexual touching rather than more severe sexual assault • Majority of victims who didn’t report to police said that they didn’t think incident was important enough to report • But most did confide in friends, many (less than those confiding in friends) turned to family and other informal sources of support Genetics -up to 50% of the variance in aggression may be caused by genetic factors -marked individual differences in rates of aggression are seen even by age 3 -children who are highly aggressive early in life are more likely to be aggressive later (however, environmental factors are also likely to stay stable over time so finding stability in rates of aggression isn’t enough to prove that genetics alone explains aggressive behavior) Hormones -in virtually all societies, males more aggressive than females; theory that presence of male testosterone cause gender differences -ppl who are highly aggressive have higher levels of testosterone -among inmates convicted of homicide, those w/ higher testerone levels more often knew their victims and planned crimes ahead of time -also, women who were rated as highly aggressive in prisons had higher levels of testosterone than those who were neutral in behavior Research Focus on Gender: Explaining Gender Differences in Aggressive Behavior -biology and evolution not the only explanations for gender differences in aggression -Social Learning Theory: describes behavior as learned by observing or modeling others’ behavior as well as by the presence of punishments and rewards or reinforcements • Said that males and females are taught different things about costs and benefits of aggression (e.g. boys who use their fists to fight may receive social rewards etc.) -men are usually more aggressive than women but gender differences are not large and difference in recent studies are smaller than in older studies -men have higher rates of physical aggression but only slightly higher for verbal aggression and lower rates of relational aggression (behaviors that are intended to disrupt relationships) than women -women more likely than men to initiate aggression producing psychological or social harm -gender differences in aggression are larger in more naturalistic studies and when behavior is measured through observation rather than self-report -provocation reduces impact of gender role norms on aggression -gender differences appear when ppl are dentificable in situation but not when they are anonymous -higher levels of physical and relational aggression in girls in all-girls school and conventional gender differences in the mixed school where boys showed more physical aggression -testosterone leads to increased readiness to respond assertively to provocation and threats, makes ppl more impatient and irritable which can lead to aggression • Studies suggest that it may not be testosterone alone that leads to higher rates of aggression but presence of this hormone along with some other variable o Men with high income have low rates of adult delinquency regardless of their level of testosterone; men with low income show low delinquency if low levels of testosterone but high rates if high levels of testosterone • Studies suggest link bw aggression and testosterone is bidirectional; testosterone can increase aggression but aggression or aggressive cues can lead to increase in testosterone levels (e.g. handling a gun, show higher increase in testosterone than those who handle childs game) -serotonin associated with aggression: animals that are aggressive shown to have low serotonin levels and low serotonin levels shown to make animals overreact aversive stimuli Health Connections: The Link Between Alcohol Use and Aggression -alcohol leads to disinhibition: a weakening or removal of inhibitions that normally restrain ppl from acting on their impulses -alcohol use interferes w information processing by impairing ppls ability to think straight, draw accurate conclusions and integrate pieces of information -also at subconscious level: participants who were primed with alcohol related images vs. weapons or plant images, recognized aggressive words faster than neutral words -exposure to alchol advertisements led ppl to interpret behavior of target person as more hostile -but contextual factors are important (e.g. permissive environment and ppl hanging around after close time predictors of both frequency and severity of aggression but unwanted sexual contact, physical contact and ppl having two or more drinks predict frequency but not severity of aggression) How Do Social Psychological Factors Influence Aggression? -participants who completed the survey in weapon condition (watched video of target shooting and practiced aiming rifle) recommended longer sentensves after reading about first offence crimes than in sports condition (presence of object “primes” aggression) Frustration-Aggression Theory -Frustration-Aggression Theory: says that frustration always leads to desire tot behavior aggressively and that aggression is caused by frustration (incorporates the Freudian idea of aggression as basic impulse) -students in study who had high expectations for donations (told to call ppl to request for donations) showed higher levels of aggression in response to negative response; more frustrated bc they were unable to fulfill the goal Displacement -the theory says that when ppl are frustrated, they need to be aggressive but when the target or cause of the frustration is not available, people use displacement -Displacement: ppl’s tendency to aggress against others when source of frustration is unavailable (transfer their anger) • displaced aggression likely to target “designated victims” (immigrants, unemployed, welfare recipients) -does provocation lead to anger displacement? Researchers provoked some by making them do difficult task, then giving negative feedback; then met confederate who offered them triffer for aggression by giving negative feedback. Ppl who were provoked displaced frustration onto new person, with more negative rating of the confederate The Impact of Relative Deprivation -aggressive behavior increases when ppl are in difficult financial situations **ask why this isn’t absolute? -strong negative correlation between price of cotton and # of lynchings of African Americans in American south from 1882 - 1930 Critiques of Frustration-Aggression Theory -limitation is that frustration doesn’t have to lead to aggression but could lead to other emotions (disappointment, sadness, depression) -another limitation: not all aggression stems from frustration (frustration more likely to lead to emotional aggression vs. instrumental aggression) Cognitive-Neoassociation Theory -theory says that any event that leads to negative affect, like heat, pain, unpleasant noise, odors, crowding can lead to aggression Hot Temperatures -hotter summers associated with more violent crimes (assault, property crime, rape) in American cities -high temp leads to physiological arousal and increased hostile feelings and thoughts which might increase likelihood of aggression -but if we’re aware that some of physiological changes are due to temp, less likely to become aggressive • when Ss saw thermometer on wall, attentive to temperature, they did not become more aggressive with increased temp -the link might be curvilinear: at extremelyhigh temp, aggression decreases • e.g. in American cities, most assaults happen in the late evening or early morning • Suggests assaults reaching peak at moderately high temp, then decreasing • but critized bc it ignores time of day which itself has strong impact on aggression frequencies; e.g. during the night, increasing temp associated w increasing frequency of assault but no assocaiton between temp and frequency of assault during the day Other Unpleasant Conditions -aggression produced w other bad conditions: pollution, threatened self esteem, crowding, pain, noise, poverty Cues of Aggression -another factor that can trigger aggressive behavior is mere presence of object associated with aggression -“weapons effect”: participants behaved more aggressively (delievered shocks to confederate) when revolver rifle were in room as opposed to sports items -shows that presence of gun seems to be able to elicit aggressive resposnes from others -having a gun at home triples the person’s risk of being killed -Seattle has twice the murder rate of Vancouver; Vancouver severely limits handgun ownership -following purchase of handgun, the gun owner’s risk of suicide is higher, like 57times higher than rate in general popn Excitation Transfer Theory -Arousal-Affect/Excitation Transfer Model: model describing aggression as influenced by both the intensity of the arousal and the type of emotion produced by the stimulus -any type of arousal can be interpreted as aggression if person is in situation that cues aggression (like Schacter and Singer’s two-factor theory of emotion) -Ss who did strenuous exercise and provoked by confederate delivered higher intensity shocks to confederate than those who engaged in mild exercise (e.g. less aroused) -if we’re physiologicall aroused (For whatever reason) and if our environment tells us we’re angry, we’ll act aggressively (misattribute to the situation their feelings or arousal) Social Learning Theory Modelling -children learn to engage in aggressive behavior through watching behavior either in real life or through TV and movies (e.g. Bandura’s study of children and Bobo doll) Reinforcement -children may receive positive reinforcement for being aggressive (e.g. bully is rewarded by getting lunch money when he takes other childrens’ lunch money) -partipants in study played car racing video game; those rewarded for violence showed increased hostile emotions, aggressive thinking and aggressive behavior; punishment by losing point had no effect on aggressive thinking/behavior but increased hostile emotions General Aggression Model -proposes that both individual differences and situational factors leads to aggression-related thoughts, feelings and/or physiological arousal • describes both the role of individual differences (traits, beliefs, skills) and situational factors (pain, frustration, presence of guns) in leading to aggression related thoughts • in turn, presence of such thoughts, mood and arousal can lead ppl into appraising situations in ways that lead to aggressive behavior -evidence for the model: ppl do vary in their general tendency toward aggression (e.g. those high in aggressiveness more likely to interpret neutral words as having aggressive component) • also, exposure to cues to aggression can trigger aggressive thoughts and feelings • males who play violent video games interpret their partner’s behavior in competitive game as more aggressive than those without exposure, and this perception in turn leads them to behave more aggressively -then, this activation of aggressive thoughts and feelings can lead to aggressive behavior • paritipcants who first played violent video game more likely to choose to compete (rather than cooperate with partner for mutual gain) than those that played w nonviolent video game How Does the Media Influence Aggression? -the relationship between watching aggression on TV and aggressive behavior is as strong as the link bw smoking and cancer Provides Aggressive Models -students who watch wrestling on TV more likely to enga
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