Aggression: Hurting Others

What is aggression?

Ψ Aggression: Physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt someone.

Ψ Psychologists classify aggression as instrumental or hostile.

 Hostile aggression is driven by anger & performed as an end in itself. ( a.k.a. affective aggression).

 Instrumental aggression is aggressive behavior intended to achieve a goal (a means to some other end). It is not necessarily intended 
to hurt another person. Most terrorism is instrumental aggression.

Ψ Theories of Aggression

 Instinct theory: This theory has largely been discredited. The instinctive theory of aggression claims that aggression 
builds up whether or not there is any outside provocation until it is likely that aggressive behavior will result. 

 The theory of aggression as drive claims that aggression a response to the frustration of some goal-directed behavior 
by an outside source. These goals include basic needs like food, water, sleep, sex, love, & recognition.

 Neural influences: Researchers have found neural systems (specific areas of the brain) when stimulated produce 
 Genetic influences: Heredity influences the neural system's sensitivity to aggressive cues.

 Blood chemistry: influences the neural system's sensitivity to aggressive cues, e.g. Increased alcohol levels enhance 
aggressiveness & aggressiveness correlates with the male hormone, testosterone.

Ψ  Psychological Influences on Aggression    

  Frustration & Aggression Theory: posits that feelings of aggression are brought on when we are prevented from obtaining 
a goal. Fear of punishment / disapproval for aggressing may cause displacement (aggression redirected against a target 
other than the one causing the frustration or even against one's self). Frustration aggression theory predicts that when 
individuals are frustrated & cannot aggress against the source of their frustration, they will attack less powerful groups.     

 Modified Frustration & Aggression Theory: (Berkowitz) Looks at aggression as an externally elicited drive. Frustration 
creates a emotional readiness to respond in an aggressive manner (ANGER). This theory suggests that certain cues in our 
environment have aggressive cue value. If, then, a person becomes frustrated in the presence of these cues, he will behave 
more aggressively.     

  There are rewards of aggression.    

  Social Learning theory (Albert Bandura) aggression is acquired through viewing aggressive models; people are aggressive 

         they have learned aggressive responses through past experience 
           they are encouraged by social conditions to behave aggressively. 
             they receive or expect to receive rewards for behaving in an aggressive manner.    

  Social Learning theory: Modeling is the process through which a person observes the behavior of another, forms an idea 
(encodes it), & uses the performance as a guide to her own behavior. Through modeling the learner acquires new forms of 
behavior (Observational learning effect). Modeling can also inhibit (weaken) or disinhibit (strengthen) behavior. Models serve 
as cues to behavior.     

  Environmental influences: Aggression is triggered by:        

          Painful incidents 
             Crowding - subjective feeling that there is not enough space per person.    

Ψ  Reducing Aggression    

Ψ  Catharsis: The Greek word for purgation, cleansing, & purification is a word that has become part of the learned 
vocabulary of scholars. Catharsis is a psychodynamic principle that, in its most basic sense, is simply an emotional release. 
Further, the catharsis hypothesis maintains that aggressive or sexual urges are relieved by "releasing" aggressive or sexual 
energy, usually through action or fantasy. This hypothesis is not well supported by research. This is a central component of 
the drive theory of aggression. Many people still feel that "blowing off steam" periodically is important to good mental health. 

                                                     Does the Media Influence Social Behavior?

  Ψ  Pornography & Sexual Violence    
    Repeated exposure to fictional eroticism has several effects, it can:        
         decrease attraction to a life-time partner. 
           increase acceptance of extramarital sex.     
    In the U.S. pornography is a big business.   
 Ψ  Distorted Perceptions of Sexual Reality        
   Exposure to pornography increases acceptance of the "rape myth" - that some women welcome sexual assault - "that no 
 doesn't  really mean no".    
 Ψ Aggression against Women        
     Exposure to violent pornography increases punitive behavior toward women. 
     Media awareness training: By sensitizing people to the view of women that predominates in pornography & to issues 
   of sexual harassment & violence, it should be possible to counter the myth that women enjoy being coerced.    
Ψ Television's Effects on Behavior        

     Television is a cause of of social violence. It is a potentially controllable cause.       

     Television causes arousal, disinhibits behavior, & invokes imitation. If the imitation were of prosocial behavior it could 
   (& does) produce "good" results.    Ψ Video Games        
     Five consistent effects of playing violent video games:        
       1. increases arousal 
         2. increases aggressive thinking 
          3. increases aggressive feelings 
           4. increases aggressive behavior 
            5. decreases prosocial behaviors        
     The more violent the game the bigger the effects!        
     Contrary to the catharsis hypothesis , practicing violence breeds rather than releases violence!

                                                                      Social Psychology
                                                                        Robert C. Gates

     "A society that presumes a norm of violence and celebrates aggression, whether in the subway, on the football field, or in the conduct 
 of its business, cannot help making celebrities of the people who would destroy it." - LEWIS H. LAPHAM, Harper's Magazine, Mar. 1985