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chapter 11

Chapter 11

Aggression: Its Nature, Causes, and Control

  • This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law:
  • any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network;
  • preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, of any images;
  • any rental, lease, or lending of the program.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

aggression
Aggression
  • Theoretical Perspectives
  • Causes of Human Aggression
  • Aggression in Long-Term Relationships
  • Prevention and Control of Aggression

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

aggression3
Aggression
  • Aggression—behavior directed toward the goal of harming another living being who is motivated to avoid such treatment

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

theoretical perspectives
Theoretical Perspectives
  • The Role of Biological Factors
    • Aggression is inherited and instinctual.
      • Freud’s “death instinct” (thanatos)
        • Instinct is aimed at self-destruction, but is redirected toward others
      • Lorenz proposed the existence of an inherited fighting instinct that ensures that the strongest survive.
    • Social psychologists disagreed with the idea that aggression was unlearned.
      • Human aggression takes many forms
      • Frequency of violence varies across cultures

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

theoretical perspectives5
Theoretical Perspectives
  • The evolutionary perspective in psychology has resulted in some changes in this belief.
    • Although most social psychologists still reject the notion that human aggression is caused by innate factors, many now acknowledge the possibility that human aggression can be affected by biological or genetic factors.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

theoretical perspectives6
Theoretical Perspectives
  • Drive Theories
    • Drive Theories (of aggression)—suggest that aggression stems from external conditions that arouse the motive to harm or injure others
      • A famous drive theory is the frustration-aggression hypothesis—the suggestion that frustration is a very powerful determinant of aggression.
        • This theory is not well-supported, but remains popular.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

theoretical perspectives7
Theoretical Perspectives
  • Modern Theories of Aggression
    • Social learning perspective
      • People learn the nuances of aggression through direct experience or by observing others, which includes:
        • Ways to harm others
        • Which groups are appropriate targets
        • What actions justify retaliation
        • What situations permit or approve of aggression
      • The display of aggressive behavior depends on past experience, current rewards, and attitudes and values.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

theoretical perspectives8
Theoretical Perspectives
  • Modern Theories of Aggression
    • General Aggression Model—suggests that aggression is triggered by a wide range of input variables which influence arousal, affective stages, and cognitions
      • Input variables include situational factors and personal factors
        • Repeated exposure to aggression can facilitate the influence of these variables and can prime people for aggression.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

theoretical perspectives9
Theoretical Perspectives

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

theoretical perspectives10
Theoretical Perspectives
  • What are your thoughts?
    • What does each theoretical perspective offer in terms of better understanding the roots of violence?
    • Which theories seem to explain violence against strangers?
    • Which theories appear to explain violence toward friends and loved ones?

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression
Causes of Human Aggression
  • Social Causes of Aggression
    • Frustration
      • Does not always lead to some form of aggression
        • It may lead to sadness, depression.
      • Aggression does not always result from frustration.
        • People may aggress for other reasons (boxers, soldiers).
      • However, it can elicit aggression when the cause of the frustration is viewed as illegitimate or unjustified.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression12
Causes of Human Aggression
  • Social Causes of Aggression
    • Provocation
      • Physical or verbal provocation is one of the main causes of aggression.
        • People tend to reciprocate with the same or slightly higher level of aggression that they receive from others.
        • Condescension, the expression of arrogance or disdain, is a strong predictor of aggression.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression13
Causes of Human Aggression
  • Social Causes of Aggression
    • Heightened arousal
      • Arousal in one situation can increase aggression in response to provocation, frustration, etc. in another, unrelated situation
        • Excitation Transfer Theory—suggests that arousal produced in one situation can persist and intensify emotional reactions occurring in later situations
          • More likely to happen when people are not aware that they are experiencing residual arousal
          • Or, when people are aware of their arousal but attribute it to the present situation, rather than its original source

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression14
Causes of Human Aggression

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression15
Causes of Human Aggression
  • Exposure to Media Violence
      • May be a factor that contributes to high levels of violence in countries where it is viewed by many people
        • This is supported by short-term laboratory experiments and longitudinal studies.
      • Can prime aggressive thoughts and lead to a hostile expectation bias that others will behave aggressively, which causes individuals to act more aggressively

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression16
Causes of Human Aggression

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression17
Causes of Human Aggression
  • Violent Pornography
      • Can increase the likelihood that men will aggress against women
      • Can desensitize people to victims of sexual violence
      • Fosters belief in rape myths

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression18
Causes of Human Aggression
  • Cultural Factors in Aggression
    • Cultures of Honor—cultures in which there are strong norms indicating that aggression is an appropriate response to insults to one’s honor
      • May have developed due to how wealth was acquired in some regions (in assets that could be stolen easily)
        • Individuals demonstrated that thefts would not be tolerated by engaging in violence.
          • Norms condoning violence in response to threats to one’s honor then developed.
      • Two regions of the United States still follow this culture: the West and the South.
        • These areas of the country have higher rates of murders resulting from brawls and arguments.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression19
Causes of Human Aggression
  • Cultural Factors in Aggression
    • Sexual Jealousy
      • Is more likely to be avenged by acts of violence in cultures of honor than in other cultures
        • “Crimes of passion” are condoned, at least somewhat, in cultures of honor since infidelity is viewed as a large insult to a man’s honor.
          • Within these cultures, women who accept aggression as a response to sexual jealousy are viewed more positively than those who do not.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression20
Causes of Human Aggression

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression21
Causes of Human Aggression
  • Personal Causes of Aggression
    • Type A behavior pattern—consists of high levels of competitiveness, time urgency, and hostility
      • More likely than the Type B behavior pattern to engage in hostile aggression,in which the main goal is to inflict harm on the victim (e.g., child or spousal abuse)
      • Equally likely as Type B’s to engage in instrumental aggression, in which the main goal is to attain valued resources

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression22
Causes of Human Aggression
  • Personal Causes of Aggression
    • Hostile Attributional Bias—tendency to perceive hostile intentions or motives in others’ ambiguous acts
    • Narcissism (over-inflated view of oneself)
      • Narcissists react with high levels of aggression when feedback from others threatens their inflated self-image.
    • Sensation seeking
      • People high in sensation seeking (seek new, risky experiences) show higher levels of both physical and verbal aggression compared to others.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression23
Causes of Human Aggression
  • Personal Causes of Aggression
    • Gender differences
      • Overall males report engaging in more aggressive behavior than do females.
      • The extent of gender differences depends on the situation and the type of aggression.
        • Gender differences tend to become nonexistent in situations in which provocation is present.
        • Males are more likely than females are to use direct forms of aggression (physical assaults, shouting).
        • Females are more likely than males are to use indirect forms of aggression (gossiping, spreading rumors).

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression24
Causes of Human Aggression
  • Situational Determinants of Aggression
    • High temperatures and aggression
      • There appears to be a curvilinear relationship.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression25
Causes of Human Aggression
  • Situational Determinants of Aggression
    • Alcohol consumption
      • Participants in experiments who consume alcohol (enough to be legally drunk) behave more aggressively and respond to provocations more strongly than do participants who do not drink alcohol.
      • The effects of alcohol on aggressive behavior may be due to reduced cognitive functioning and the negative effects it has on accurate social perception.
        • Alcohol makes it harder for people to evaluate the intentions of others and to consider the consequences of acting aggressively.
        • Alcohol appears to alter the type of inconsistencies to which people pay attention.
        • And, it may release the inhibitions of people who typically are not very aggressive.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

causes of human aggression26
Causes of Human Aggression
  • What are your thoughts?
    • Which causes of human aggression seem easiest to reduce and control?
      • Why?
    • Which causes of human aggression seem difficult to reduce and control?
      • Why?
      • How can social psychologists help?

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

aggression in long term relationships
Aggression in Long-Term Relationships
  • Bullying—pattern of behavior in which one individual is chosen as the target of repeated aggression by one or more others
    • Motives of bullies
      • To hold power over others
      • To be part of a group that is considered powerful
      • To counter the negative feelings associated with depression
    • Characteristics of bullies and victims
      • Some people are pure bullies; some are pure victims; and some are bully-victims.
      • Bullies’ perception of others often is guided by the hostile attributional bias.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

aggression in long term relationships28
Aggression in Long-Term Relationships
    • Bullies and bully-victims tend to have lower self-esteem compared to their peers.
    • Bullies believe that others cannot be trusted.
    • Bullies and bully-victims believe that aggression is the best response to bullying.
  • How can bullying be reduced?
    • It must be viewed as a problem by all involved parties.
    • Persons in authority must take notice of it and take an unequivocal stand against it.
    • Potential victims must be informed about how to deal with a bully.
    • Outside assistance in identifying causes of it and in devising programs to reduce it should be utilized.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

aggression in long term relationships29
Aggression in Long-Term Relationships
  • Workplace Aggression—any form of behavior through which individuals seek to harm others in their workplace
    • Tends to be covert rather than overt
    • Major Types
      • Expressions of hostility (e.g., talking behind people’s backs)
      • Obstructionism (e.g., interfering with important activities)
      • Overt Aggression (e.g., physical assault, theft)

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

aggression in long term relationships30
Aggression in Long-Term Relationships
    • Abusive supervision (e.g., public and private ridicule, rude behavior, taking credit for a subordinate’s work)
  • Causes
    • Perceived unfairness
    • Norms that are accepting of interpersonal violence
    • Workplace changes—downsizing, layoffs, increased use of part-time employees
      • The frequency of such changes has increased recently, which may explain why workplace aggression is increasing.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

aggression in long term relationships31
Aggression in Long-Term Relationships
  • What are your thoughts?
    • Is bullying a serious problem?
      • Why or why not?
    • What forms of workplace aggression have you experienced?
      • What caused the aggression to occur?
      • Was the situation resolved?
        • If so, how?

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

prevention and control of aggression
Prevention and Control of Aggression
  • Some Useful Techniques
    • Punishment
      • Delivery of aversive consequences
      • Two beliefs regarding its implementation
        • Aggressive behavior deserves to be punished.
        • Punishment of aggressive behavior deters future aggression.
      • However, to be effective it must be prompt, certain, strong, and justified or deserved.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

prevention and control of aggression33
Prevention and Control of Aggression
  • Some Useful Techniques
    • Catharsis Hypothesis—opportunity to express aggressive impulses in “safe” ways will reduce tendencies to engage in more harmful forms of aggression
      • Activities to vent anger are more likely to increase aggression and offer only temporary relief.
        • Anger and aggression may be increased when people think about wrongs they have suffered and imagine vengeful acts.

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

prevention and control of aggression34
Prevention and Control of Aggression
  • Some Useful Techniques
    • Cognitive Interventions
      • Apologies and good excuses can reduce anger and aggression.
      • Perform acts that overcome cognitive deficits associated with anger
      • Engage in activities that distract attention away from causes of anger and allow anger to lessen
    • Forgiveness—giving up desire to punish someone who has caused harm, and seeking, instead, to act in kind, helpful ways toward them
      • Involves empathy, external attributions, avoiding rumination

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon

prevention and control of aggression35
Prevention and Control of Aggression
  • What are your thoughts?
    • What are problems associated with implementing punishment so that its effectiveness would be increased?
    • Why isn’t the catharsis hypothesis accurate?
    • What are examples of cognitive interventions that may reduce anger and aggression and make forgiveness more likely to occur?
      • What are the benefits of forgiving someone who has angered you?

Copyright 2006, Allyn and Bacon