Aggression CH 11

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created 2 years ago by Nabil_Kamaldeen
-What is Aggression? -Neural and Chemical influences on Aggression -Situational Causes of Aggression -How to Reduce Aggression
updated 2 years ago by Nabil_Kamaldeen
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  • Aggression is an intentional behaviour that is meant to attack someone psychologically or physically.
  • The person who is getting is the receiver of the aggression usually does not want it.

Types of Aggression

  • Hostile Aggression: Usually feelings of pure anger that are meant to hurt someone.
  • Instrumental Aggression: Used when there is a goal.

Sometimes instrumental aggression can be seen in abusive relationships when one of the partners uses aggression as a means to keep the other in the relationship.


Gender & Aggression

Men are more likely to be aggressive, but women use relational aggression. This is seen in rumours, gossips, etc..

The differences are not seen too much within aggression levels, but the different types of aggression have a gender difference.

  • Violent crimes by women have doubled within the last 20 years, but men are still 4 times higher.
  • Women usually target their partners in their relationships

IPV (Inter Partner Violence)

There are 2 types of IPV:

  • Intimate Terrorism: Usually instrumental violence, meant to establish dominance over the other partner.
  • Common Couple Violence: Violence due to situation.

Spousal abuse costs about 7.2 billion dollars a year.



  • 10x higher in men
  • It causes higher levels of aggression, more violent crimes, increased sexual motivation in men and women.
  • Poorer, uneducated men are more aggressive.
  • Victory-induce testosterone is also possible to have.
  • There have been increased testosterone levels when a candidate won which was seen by porn views in that State.

Aggression and Culture 1

It was seen in a study between 2 tribes. One tribe which did deep sea fishing were more aggressive than the tribe that did close water fishing since they had to go even deeper and be more aggressive to get their catches.

Toddlers are the more aggressive age group and studies show that 25% of toddlers in daycares show some kind of aggression. This can be thought of as exploratory aggression.

Aggression starts to decline at the age of 4.


Aggression and Culture 2

  • Some societies may change their aggression levels with the ever-changing social conditions that they are in.
  • There are also "cultures of honour" which promote violence if it means that there is some kind of advantage for the violence.
  • Cultures of honour usually form in herding societies because they need to be a little aggressive in order to keep their herds in check.
  • A study shows that people who had committed honour crimes before were more likely to get hired by employers that were of South American descent.

Evolutionary Approach

  • Men were just more genetically programmed to be aggressive in order to protect their societies as well as gather food for them.
  • They also needed to be aggressive in order to assert their dominance within the group as well as with other groups.
  • Defending any attacks from outside groups was also an necessity for the men, so they made sure they were aggressive enough.
  • In order to reproduce, they also needed to be competitive between men to get the best mate of their choosing. They need to make sure that they are the father of their child, and this is the paternity uncertainty hypothesis.

Animals and Aggression

  • Studies also show that some animal breeds are more aggressive than others.
  • Sometimes even though they are aggressive by nature, the culture in which they live in causes them to not be so aggressive.
  • Being able to live in harmony with other animals can make the aggression levels decrease in some animals (rearing).
  • It is important that these animals knew how to suppress their aggression in some situations.

Alcohol and Aggression

  • The more that you drink, the more aggressive you tend to be.
  • 67% of homicide against spouses is due to alcohol.
  • Aggression decreases self-awareness, causes us to think other people's intentions are more hostile, and also lowers our ego and cognitive function.

Pain and Aggression

  • Pain/Discomfort lowers the threshold for aggression.
  • Studies show that participants in hotter rooms were more likely to add aggressive content into stories.
  • Temperatures can really affect how people think of others, as well as how aggressive they can get.

Situational Cause of Aggression 1

  • Frustration: What ensues when you cannot complete a goal (Blockage in Gratification).
  • The Frustration-Aggression theory states that you will become aggressive when you become frustrated.
  • If we get rid of the frustration, there will be catharsis and this will lead to no aggression, if not, then the frustration will continue and then eventually lead to aggression.
  • Frustration only INCREASES the chance of aggression and not completely causes it.

Situational Cause of Aggression 2

  • Chances for aggression are increased when we are prevented from reaching our goal, or frustration is random.
  • There are also reasons why people would not get frustrated. If they are too small or weak to do anything, the frustration is less, or if there is a valid reason as to why not to get frustrated (Failed hearing aid).
  • Relative Deprivation: The feeling that you and your group have less than they deserve, less than they think similar people have, or less than what they expected to have. All these lead to frustration, which leads to aggression.
  • Usually when there is aggression shown towards you, you want to reciprocate it, unless it was unintentional.

Situational Cause of Aggression 3

Social Exclusion: Being excluded from a group, which increases your aggressiveness.

In a study, it was seen that people that were excluded by the researchers were more likely to make a louder noise later on due to their anger.

Social exclusion can motivate us to form new social bonds.

  • Aggressive Stimulus: When the presence of something violent/lethal can cause aggressiveness levels to increase. We also tend to notice these more often than others.
  • A study which participants were meant to give shocks to other "participants" and it was seen when they were in the presence of aggressive stimuli, they would deliver higher voltage shocks.
  • There is a lower rate of violence in the countries that have strict gun control policies.

Learning to be Aggressive

  • Social Learning Theory: Learning social behaviours by watching and learning from others.
  • This can be seen in the Bandura Bobo Doll study. Also, imitating super heroes shown to male children make them more aggressive in their schools.
  • There has been a positive correlation between watching violent media and aggressiveness levels in people. The same applies with violent video games that children play these days.
  • In pornography that showed women getting more violated and being overpowered, men were more likely to be aggressive when watching it. Most intense shocks in studies were given by the men who showed the highest tendencies of watching this kind of pornography.
  • It is also possible that repeated exposure to these kinds of events would numb people's responses to them and cause them to not have any emotional attachment to the events. Being involved in the events also increased aggression levels.

Punishing Aggression

  • Punishment only works if it is prompt and certain and cannot be avoided.


  • The thought that "blowing off steam" will reduce aggression levels, even though it does not actually work.

Freud's Dual Instinct Theory

  • These instincts are innate and we are all born with it.
  • Can't have one without the expense of the other.
  • Eros (Life Instinct): Sex, Nurturance, and Affiliation.
  • Thanatos (Death Instinct): Aggression towards self/others.

Freud's Dual Instinct Theory (Hydraulic Theory)

Damned up forces must be:

  • Able to find a behavioural expression and a target.
  • Able to find catharsis.
  • Able to find sublimation in alternatives.

Sublimation is usually a lot better than catharsis, which is just a temporary relief of the aggression/frustration.


Catharsis & Aggression

  • Catharsis has been proven to not be efficient.
  • It was seen in a study that people were told that their aggression would be lowered if they punched a bag, but in reality, their levels increased instead.
  • Watching competitive events or sports also caused aggression levels to increase.

Blaming the Victim

  • Venting does not decrease hostility within oneself.
  • When a person aggresses, they experience cognitive dissonance. They also tend to derogate the victim in order to make sense and reduce the cognitive dissonance.
  • War looses the inhibition for violence, which causes crime rates to increase as well.

What do we do to reduce aggression?

  • Communication and Problem solving
  • Apologies (Must be sincere)
  • Modelling non-aggressive behaviour
  • Building empathy

Poverty levels are positively correlated with child mistreatment.

The most tough time to cope with aggression is within the first few minutes.