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Psychology 3720F/G Chapter Notes -Relational Aggression, Behaviorism, Psych

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Stelian Medianu

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Psych 3720F – Final Exam
Lesson 7
Defining and Measuring Aggression
Defining Aggression
- Negative form of social behaviour causing problems between individuals, groups, and
societies  social construct determined by shared values & normative beliefs
oBuss (behaviouristic); response that delivers noxious stimuli to another organism
oBehaviour carried out with intention of inflicting harm on target
oAnticipation that the action will produce a particular outcome
oDesire of the target person to avoid the harmful treatment
-Baron and Richardson; aggression is any form of behaviour directed toward the goal or
harming or injuring another living being who is motivated to avoid such treatment
oWidely accepted definition, with three major implications:
- Aggressive behaviour is characterized by it’s motivation, not consequences
- Intention to harm specified that the actor must understand that the
behaviour in question has the potential to cause harm or injury to the target
- Actions that cause harm performed with targets consent are not aggressive
Features of Aggression
- Categorized by: response modality, response quality (action/failure to act), visibility,
instigation, type of harm, duration of effects, social units involved
- Direct aggression involves face-to-face confrontation between aggressor & target
- Indirect aggression is aimed are harming other people behind their back by spreading
rumours about them or otherwise damaging their peer relationships
oAlso called relational aggression
oUsed when cost of direct aggression would be high
- Hostile aggression is a desire to harm as an expression of negative feelings
- Instrumental aggression deals with achieving a goal by means of an aggressive act
- Legitimate vs. illegitimate (norm-violating) aggression deals with social acceptability
oNormative evaluation differs depending on perspective
Important Definitions
-DeWall & Anderson; antisocial behaviour violates social norms of appropriate conduct
-Tedeschi & Felson; coercion is an action taken with the intention of imposing harm on
another person or forcing compliance (form of instrumental aggression, social influence)
-Geen; violence is the infliction of intense force upon persons or property for the purposes
of destruction, punishment, or control
oArcher & Browne; physically damaging assaults which aren’t socially legitimized
oWorld Health Org (Krug); intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or
actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that
either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological
harm, maldevelopment or deprivation
- Six potential functions of violent behaviour (Mattaini, Twyman, Chin, and Lee):
1. Change of, or escape from, aversive situations
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2. Positive reinforcement (Attainment of goal)
3. Release of negative affective arousal
4. Resolution of conflict
5. Gaining of respect
6. Attack on a culturally defined “enemy”
- Structural violence denotes societal conditions that entail harmful consequences for
certain social groups. Latent feature of social systems, leads to inequality/injustice
Measuring Aggression
- Mainly observational or based on reporting data
- Naturalistic observation: to observe setting & frequency of aggressive behaviours
oGraham and Wells (2001); observational study in bars, frequency of aggress.
Personal violations, offensive behaviour according to norms of place
77.8% of incidents involved men only, 3.4% women only, 18.8% both
1/3 of all incidents involved physical aggression
- Field experiments: unobtrusive variation of one or more variables to assess their impact
oRehm, Steinleitner, and Lilli (1987); de-individuation lower aggress threshold?
5th graders, wear team uniform during gym class
Uniforms = more aggressive acts than students wearing their own clothes
Supports that anonymity increases likelihood of aggressive behaviour
oBaron (1976); traffic situations, drivers more aggressive when frustrated
Frustration = time confederate took to move his car
High frustration = faster & longer honking at slower driver
oHarris (1974); people waiting in queue respond to cutting in line
More aggression when person cut at head of line (high frust) than at back
Measuring Aggression in the Lab
- P’s exposed to experimental manipulation, randomly assigned, & other factors controlled
oUse paradigms where P’s can show aggression w/out actual ability to harm anyone
- Teacher-learner paradigm: participant is teacher to a confederate, administering a task
oErrors are punished by P, get to choose intensity (how aggression is measured)
oDeveloped by Buss (1961); shock machine where you pick intensity & duration
oLim: If P adopts teacher role, they may not want to punish the learner/be antisocial
oLim: This can only measure proactive/unprovoked aggression
- Essay evaluation paradigm: delivering negative evals of essay written by target person
oDeveloped by Berkowitz (1962) – allows evaluation of other moderating variables
-Weapons effect: deliver more shocks in presence of aggression-cue (gun)
oP receives shocks as evaluation of their work, then gets to evaluate other person
oIf they received more shocks, they’re more likely to give more as well
- Competitive reaction time (CRT): P’s in reaction time task, Taylor (1967)
oBefore each trial, P sets intensity of stimuli delivered to loser (other person)
oP always wins first trial = measure of proactive/unprovoked aggression
oAfter losing one trial, new shock setting = provoked/reactive/retaliatory aggress.
- Hot sauce paradigm: P delivers stimuli to target, amt. of spicy hot sauce (Lieberman, 99)
oP first tastes the hot sauce, then decides how much
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