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Chapter 11

Sociology 2233 Chapter 11 Textbook Notes

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Western University
Sociology 2233
Richard Sorrentino

Chapter 11 –Aggression What isAggression? • An intentional action aimed at doing harm or causing pain – it may be physical or verbal (causing psychological pain) • The key word is intention – if a drunk driver runs you over, it is not an act of aggression because they likely weren’t intending on doing so o HostileAggression: Act of aggression stemming from feelings of anger and aimed at inflicting pain or injury o Instrumental Aggression: There is an intention to hurt the other person, but the hurting takes place as a means to some goal other than inflicting pain  Ex: In a hockey game, an hockey player may use aggression to put off the other team – this is instrumental aggression  If, however, the hockey player thought that the other opponent was playing dirty, he might get angry and hurt the other player – even if it doesn’t help towards the game – this is hostile aggression Is Aggression Inborn or Learned? • Freud believed that humans are born with an instinct toward life, called Eros, and an equally powerful death instinct, called Thanatos • Thanatos leads us to aggressive actions • Aggressive energy must come out somehow, before it builds up and produces illness in our bodies • Society performs an essential function in regulating this instinct and in helping people sublimate it – to turn the destructive energy into useful or acceptable behaviour Is Aggression Instinctual? Situational? Optional? • The Evolutionary Argument: Buss & Duntley suggest that aggression is genetically programmed into men because it enables them to perpetuate their genes o MenAggress for 2 Reasons: 1. To establish dominance over other males – females will chose the one who is better suited to protect offspring 2. Males aggress ‘jealousy’to unsure that their mates are not copulating with others – this ensures their paternity o This theory has been backed by crime statistics, as males are most likely to engage in crime during their peak reproductive years (teens and twenties) • AggressionAmong Animals: Studies show that although aggressive behaviour can be modified by experience, aggression apparently does not need to be learned. o The near universality of aggression suggests that aggressiveness has evolves and has been maintained because it has survival value – but, it is an optional strategy and is contingent by the animal’s previous social experiences and by the specific social context in which the animal finds itself. Aggression and Culture: • Human cultures vary widely in their degree of aggressiveness • Social changes over time can produce aggression within a given culture as there may be increases in competition • Violence may be seen as more acceptable in honour cultures – cultures that define male honour in terms of power, toughness, and the ability to protect one’s property. o Are more likely to believe that infidelity of a female partner is damaging to the male partner’s reputation and that his reputation could be restored through the use of violence against her. o Belief that the female partner should remain loyal, even if the male partner was aggressive • Although there may be an evolved tendency for humans to be aggressive, these tendencies are modifiable by the social context – changes in situational/social events can produce aggression Neural and Chemical Influences onAggression • Amygdala:An area in the core of the brain that is associated with aggressive behaviour o When amygdala is stimulated, docile organisms become violent o When amygdala is blocked, violent organisms become docile  Impact of neural mechanisms can be modified by social factors • Serotonin: Achemical in the brain that may reduce aggressive impulses o Violent crimes have particularly low levels of serotonin – also, when the natural production of serotonin is interrupted, aggressive behaviour increases. • Testosterone: Amale sex hormone associated with aggression o In younger boys (teens), testosterone is associated not with aggression, but with social dominance o Testosterone fluctuates depending on situational factors Gender and Aggression: • While young males tend to be more overtly aggressive than females, girls tend to express their aggressive feelings more covertly – by gossiping, engaging in backbiting and spreading false rumours about the target person. • Gender differences between men and women become smaller when men and women are actually provoked – in this case women can be just as aggressive as men • Does the Target Make a Difference? Men are more likely to engage in aggression towards other men, in bars or in other public places – and most likely under the influence of alcohol o Women are more likely than men to be physically aggressive towards their partners o Men are likely to engage in more severe forms of violence than women o Although women are more likely to act aggressively in relationships, they are often the ones who report being hurt at a more severe level by their male partner o Male violence does more emotional and psychological damage than female violence • Does Culture Make a Difference? Sex differences in aggressive behaviour tend to hold up across cultures – however, culture also plays a major role – making some cultures more aggressive than others. Alcohol andAggression • There is a link between alcohol and aggression – and people who tend to be physically aggressive to begin with are more likely to get into fights when they’re under the influence, as are people who say that drink in order to get drunk • Heavier men are more likely to be aggressive when they have been drinking, in comparison to lighter men • The more people drink, the more likely they will engage in aggression (this is more likely to happen in a social setting than at home) • Alcohol can play a causal role in worsening relationship conflict – and the results come from as early as grade 8 Pain, Discomfort, andAggression • Pain, as well as other types of bodily discomfort (heat, humidity, air pollution, and offensive odors) lower the threshold for aggressive behaviour Situational Causes ofAggression Frustration as a Cause ofAggression: • Frustration is a major cause of aggression • Frustration-Aggression Theory: The theory that frustration – the perception that you are being prevented from obtaining a goal – will increase the probability of an aggressive response o The closer the goal to an individual – the greater the expectation of pleasure that is prevented; and the greater the expectation, the more likely the aggression.  Ex: Cutting someone off in line wthn they are about to purchase something, vs. cutting them off when they are the 12 person in line o Aggression increases when the frustration is unexpected  If the frustration is understandable, legitimate and unintentional – the tendency to aggress will be reduced o Frustration does not always produce aggression; rather, it produces anger and annoyance, which are conducive to aggressive behaviour. o The size and strength of the person causing your frustration indicates how you will respond to the frustration – also how likely it is that the other person will retaliate • Relative Deprivation: The perception that you (or your group) have less than you deserve, less than what you have been led to expect, or less than people similar to you have. o Aggression is not caused by deprivation, rather, it is caused by relative deprivation o Relative deprivation can be seen by women police officers, and skilled immigrants (to name a few) Direct Provocation and Reciprocation • Provocation is associated with the motivation to aggress – and the desire to be aggressive is stronger when individuals imagine being intoxicated, rather than sober, in the given situation. • If you see the act as intentional, you are more likely to aggress vs. seeing the act as being an accident (ex: s
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