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Chapter 11

Psychology 2070A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 11: Relational Aggression, Stationary Bicycle, Spreading Activation


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYCH 2070A/B
Professor
o
Chapter
11

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Chapter 11: Aggression and Violence
- Aggression: any form of behaviour that is intended to injure someone physically or
psychologically
- Violence: when aggression is intended to cause extreme injury
- Hostile aggression: arises out of negative emotions such as anger and frustration
- Instrumental aggression: motivated by goals other than harming the target- either
teaching a lesson or to steal something of value. More often premeditated than impulsive
oE.g. spanking your child, or knocking someone over to steal their bag
- Aggressive behaviour can be caused by several actions simultaneously; e.g. the shooting
at Columbine high school was carefully planned (instrumental) but the accused were also
really angry and targeted the athletes of the school because they provoked them (hostile)
Relational Aggression
- Behaviour that is intended to damage another person’s peer relationships
- Studies show that boys engage in more overly physical aggression vs. girls who engage in
more relational behaviour studies done by preschool kids; shows how early behaviours
are taught
- Aggressive behaviour is also associated with popularity; seen as cool and leads to peer
acceptance rather than rejection
- Corporal punishment: inflicting pain without sustaining injury (spanking)
oOnly effective for short-term compliance
oCorrelates to greater aggression, lower mental health, and parental relationship in
the future
Theories of Aggression
General Aggression Model (GAM)
- Theory that conceptualizes aggression as the result of a chain of psychological processes;
people respond to situational events differently depending on their individual differences,
the aggressive thoughts and feelings increase the probability of an aggressive behaviour if
the person interprets the situation using appraisal processes as being appropriate for
aggressive behaviour
Biological Influences on Aggression
- E.g. anger is associated with physiological arousal- usually innate and spontaneous
- Hormonal Activity and Aggression
oStudies have shown that testosterone is associated with increased aggression

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STUDY: prisoners convicted of violent crimes have higher levels of
testosterone then prisoners convicted of nonviolent crimes
oPartly explains the gender differences (men commit 70-90% of murders) and age
differences (hormone levels peak in the mid-20s) in violent crime
- Evolutionary Processes
oProposed that human tendency towards aggression is innate because it served as a
means of survival in the past. The fight-or-flight response increased our ancestors’
chances of survival because they were always ready to engage in self-defence if
need be
oMale sexual jealousy was identified as a common precipitator of aggression because
men have evolved to aggress against other men that threaten the paternity of
offspring borne by their female
Frustration and Aggression
- Defined frustration as a feeling that occurs when an individual’s efforts to obtain a desired
goal are interfered or blocked
- Frustration-aggression hypothesis: twin propositions that frustration always leads to some
form of aggression and that frustration is the only cause for aggression
- STUDY: 2 people in a situation reminiscent to the Milgram learning study except the
confederate was always the learner and the other person was not ordered to administer
the shocks. 4 conditions; 1. Frustration was induced by working on an irresolvable puzzle.
2. Solvable but they were interrupted and didn’t finish. 3. Finished but their intelligence
was insulted (induce anger) and 4. Let them finish alone. Results showed that people in
the 2 frustration conditions delivered more shock and both had the same increased level
of aggression. In the insult condition, they showed the highest levels of aggression
- Showed that factors other then frustration (anger) can cause aggression revised
hypothesis
- Displaced Aggression
oHarm directed at someone that was not the actual source of frustration either
because it is dangerous or the person is not there anymore
oUsually in response to a minor triggering frustration but the unfortunate target
“the straw that broke the camel’s back”
- Catharsis
oIdea that aggressive behaviour releases people’s pent-up frustration and reduces
the likelihood of subsequent aggression
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oDoes not really seem to occur actually the opposite does; when people are
provided with an opportunity for aggression against a source of frustration, it
usually serves to heighten, rather than lessen, subsequent aggression
Excitation Transfer
- Idea that aversive arousal causes or heightens aggression
- Thus aggressive behaviour can be reduced by engaging in activities that reduce aversive
arousal (calming music, distracting yourself) and by the passage of time
- Other sources of physiological arousal like exercise, and sporting events and NOT just
frustration and anger can increase aggressive behaviour
- STUDY: participants were exposed initially to a procedure that either elicited anger or not,
which was followed by either vigorous exercise or quiet motor activity. Results showed
that of the 4 conditions ONLY the one when participants were both angered and spent
time on the exercise bicycle resulted in more aggressive behaviour when the roles were
switched and they could administer the shocks to the teacher
- Excitation transfer: the idea that unrelated physiological arousal can be linked to anger-
related thoughts that can ultamitely increase anger-related behaviour. In the condition
where they were angered but then spent time quietly , the anger-induced arousal
presumably dissipated over time
- Excitation transfer can increase aggression even when people are no longer consciously
aware of a state of arousal. An arousing event may cause people to respond to insults with
greater intensity
Social Learning Theory
- Theory proposes that people learn many kinds of responses, including aggressive ones,
through observation
- People often learn aggressive behaviours by watching others being rewarded and
imitating it
- STUDY: using 3-5 year old children and bobo dolls. Kids divided into 3 groups: 1. An adult
modelled aggressive behaviour far more then the child would spontaneously do on their
own. 2. They watched it on a movie. 3. Watched a cartoon version of it. Then led to
another room and showed really nice toys but denied of playing with them (induce
frustration), then left in another room with less impressive toys for 20 minutes. Children in
the control grouped engaged in very few of the modelled behaviours, but children in the
experimental group were far more likely to exibit imitative behaviour; learned to act
aggressively when frustrated
- Limitation: focuses on how aggression is learned rather than when it will occur
Cognitive Neoassociation Model
- The idea that aggression results from a process of spreading activation (once a schema in
memory becomes activated, it tends to bring to mind other schemas)
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