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Chapter 9

PSYC 231 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Poverty Threshold, Peoples Energy, Social Learning Theory

Course Code
PSYC 231
Carrie Kobelsky

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aggression: physical or verbal behaviour intended to hurt someone
-(vs. assertiveness: self-assured, energetic & go-getting behaviour)
-excludes unintentional harm or actions that may involve pain as an
unavoidable side effect of helping someone
-animals exhibit 2 types of aggression:
(a) social aggression: displaying rage
(b) silent aggression: stalking prey
-these 2 types of aggression use different brain regions & called by
different names in humans:
(a) hostile aggression: driven by anger & performed as an end in
itself by causing injury !
(ex. murder — it itself causes harm & “solves” the end goal)
(b) instrumental aggression: aims to injure as well, but only as a
means to some other end !
(ex. terrorism, war, teen-bullying — they all cause harm, but do
so in order to accomplish/prove something else)
theories of aggression — different theories of what causes aggression:
-biological influences — aggression is just part of our human nature, &
is naturally “pushed” from within
aggression is an instinctive behaviour (an innate, unlearned
behaviour pattern exhibited by all members of a species)
-if not discharged, it builds up until it explodes, or an appropriate
stimulus “releases” it
-fails to account for the variations of aggressiveness between
different cultures & people
-purposeful aggression improves odds of survival & reproduction,
& can be used to increases status
multiple neural systems in the brain facilitate aggression
-aggressive & antisocial people have less pre-frontal cortex activity
- abnormal brain regions abnormally aggressive behaviour
heredity influences the neural system’s sensitivity to aggressive cues
-varies among individuals, consistent with our early temperament
-neither “bad” genes or a “bad” environment alone predisposes
later aggressiveness & antisocial behaviour, but rather genes
predispose some children to be more sensitive nature & nurture
blood chemistry also influences our neural sensitivity to aggressive
-alcohol enhances aggression by reducing one’s self-awareness,
predisposing people to interpret ambiguous acts as provocations,
de-individuating, disinhibiting, & by focusing their attention on
what provoked them
-people also mentally associate alcohol with aggression
-low testosterone makes a man less likely to react aggressively
-poor diets deficient in important nutrients increase violence
-biology & behaviour interact (ex. testosterone my facilitate
aggression, but aggressive behaviour boosts testosterone levels)
-frustration-aggression theory — the theory that frustration triggers a
readiness to aggress
frustration: the blocking of goal-directed behaviour
displacement: the redirection of aggression to a target (other than
the source of the frustration) that is generally a safer or more socially
acceptable target
-most likely to occur when the target care some similarity to the
frustrations-causer & does something minor irritating act to
unleash the displaced aggression
revision of this theory states that frustration produces anger (an
emotional readiness to aggressive that occurs when someone who
frustrates us could have chosen to act otherwise)
-frustrated people are then more likely to lash out when cued
relative deprivation: the perceptions that one is less well off than
those who they compare themselves to
-frustration arises when there is a gap between our expectations &
our actual attainments
-explains why happiness tends to be lower & crime rights be higher
in communities with large income inequality
-predicts reactions to perceived inequalities by minority groups
-explain why women feel underpaid when they make less than
men working in the same occupation, only of they compare
themselves to male colleagues, rather than other female colleagues
absolute deprivation: lacking what others have
-watching TV can turn absolute deprivation into relative deprivation
-learned behaviour — learning “pulls” aggression out of us
we learn that aggression can be rewarding
social learning theory: the theory that we learn social behaviour
by observing & imitating, & by being rewarded &/or punished
-everyday life exposes us to aggressive models in our:
(a) family — children whose parents were violent or used
physical punishment are more likely to later aggressive
(b) culture — our sub- & broader culture
-aggressive acts are motivated by aversive experiences (ex.
frustration, pain, insults, etc.) — experiences that arouse us
-whether or not we act aggressively depends on the consequences
that we anticipate
-aggression most commonly occurs when we are aroused & when
it seems safe & rewarding to aggress
influences of aggression — specific influences that cause aggression:
-aversive incidents — include some time of aversive experience
(a) pain — any aversive event (dashed expectation, a personal
insult, or physical pain) can incite an emotional outburst, which
increases the likelihood of hostile aggressive behaviour
(b) heat — possible correlation between heat discomfort (ex. hot
climate, being in a hot room) & aggression
also works with bad odours, cigarette smoke, air pollution
(c) attacks — intentional attacks or insults by someone breeds
retaliatory attacks
-arousal — bodily arousal feeds one’s emotion, depending on how the
personal interprets & labels the arousal (good or bad)
being physically stirred up intensifies just about any emotion
sexual arousal & other forms of arousal (anger) amplify one another
sensation seekers are also more likely to be aggressive, because
aggression increases arousal & vice versa
-aggression cues — sight of weapon triggers release of pent-up anger
weapon must be seen as an instrument of violence, rather than a
recreational item
strong link between guns in a home & homicide or suicide rates
guns serve as aggression cues, & also allow for psychological distance
between the aggressor & victim
-pornography & sexual violence — viewing violent sexual scenes such
as a man overpowering & arousing a women, can:
(a) distort perceptions of sexual reality — exposure to
pornography increases acceptance of the rape myth
lead women to even think that other women might enjoy
being sexually overpowered, but not them
(b) aggression against women — exposure to pornography
contributes to men’s actual aggression toward women
men who dialled back on their porn consumption became
less aggressive
-television — the more violent the content of a child’s TV viewing, the
more aggressive the child is
heavy viewers are more violent because of their TV exposure
violence viewing at age 8 modestly predicts aggressiveness as age 19,
but aggressive at age 8 does not predict violence viewing at age 19
especially so among people with aggressive tendencies & when the
person committing the violence is attractive, justified, realistic, goes
unpunished, & shows no pain or harm
exposure to violent media increases the likelihood of aggressive &
violent behaviour in both immediate & long-term contexts because:
(a) it produces arousal, which spills over into our behaviour
(b) it primes us to aggressive behaviour & disinhibits us
(c) media portrayals evoke imitation
desensitization — our emotional response to repeated viewing of
violence becomes “extinguished” & we become immune to it
social scripts: culturally provided mental instructions for how to act
in various situations
-after viewing violent or sexual content, people may adapt what
they saw & apply it in new situations when we are uncertain as to
how we should act
altered perceptions — media portrayals shape our perception of
reality & make us see the world as a scary place
cognitive priming — primes aggressive-related ideas & thinking
time drain — TV watching sucks people’s energy & dampens mood
PSYC 231: Chapter 9 - Aggression
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