Aggression Are we doomed to hurt each other? Definitions • Intentional behavior aimed at causing either physical or psychological harm. • For psychologists, being aggressive and being assertive are different things. • Hostile vs. Instrumental Aggression – Hostile: stems from a feeling of anger. Goal is to inflict pain or injury. – Instrumental: aggression takes place as a means to some other goal (e.g., professional assassin). Aggression Statistics • • • • • 15,533 murders in the U.S. in 1999 15,586 murders in the U.S. in 2000 16,037 murders in the U.S. in 2001 16,204 murders in the U.S. in 2002 Expand definition to violent crime (murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault): – 1,430,693 in 1999 – 1,425,486 in 2000 – 1,439,480 in 2001 – 1,426,325 in 2002 Is Aggression Instinctual? • Hobbes, Freud, and Lorenz say yes. • Freud and Lorenz in particular believe that aggressive energy builds up and must be released. – Catharsis theory. – Unfortunately, aggressive catharsis frequently leads to more aggression. • One problem with instinctual explanations is that they tend to be descriptive and circular. If not instinctual, can aggression still be biological? • Evolutionary psychologists argue yes. • Buss and Shackleford propose that our ancestors found aggression to be adaptive. • Lore and Schultz agree to a point. They also point out that most species have developed inhibitory mechanisms. – Thus, aggression is an optional strategy. Neurological and Chemical Influences • Amygdala (located in the forebrain). • Testosterone – leads to an increase in aggression, but also increases during aggression – If testosterone is linked to aggression, does this mean that men are more aggressive than women? • Maccoby and Jacklin research suggests yes. – Across cultures, women demonstrate less violence – Further, during era of womens’ liberation, nonviolent crime rate relative to male rate has increased, but not violent crime rate. Is Aggression Learned? • Does aggression pay? Are people reinforced for aggression? – If so, operant conditional suggests that they are more likely to aggress in the future. • Social Learning Theory – Vicarious reinforcement – Bandura’s famous study with the Bobo doll. Regional Differences in Aggression and Social Models • Homicide rates for White southern males are substantially higher than for White northern males (especially in rural areas) – However, they do not endorse violence in general, only as a tool for protection of property and in response to insults: “Culture of honor” based upon history as herding society • Nisbett research on southerners reaction to being bumped and cursed at – More upset (cortisol increase), primed for aggression (testosterone increase), more likely to engage in aggression after the incident. Frustration-Aggression Theory • Dollard’s original definition: Frustration leads to (hostile) aggression. – Frustration is defined as having one’s goal attainment blocked. • Is this always true? • Berkowitz revises theory to state – Frustration produces anger, which provides a readiness to agress – but does not guarantee it. • Important concepts include expectations and relative deprivation. – American society “creates” frustration. Causes of Aggression, Continued • Alcohol – 75% of individuals arrested for crimes of violence were legally drunk at the time of their arrests. – Experimental evidence implies that alcohol ingestion increases aggression – Interpretation, alcohol is a disinhibitor. It seems that under the influence of alcohol a person’s primary tendencies are revealed Causes of Aggression, Continued • Pain and Discomfort – If an animal experiences pain and can’t flee, violence follows – Most research has been done on heat – Violent crime and aggression increases as temperature increases (e.g., baseball above 90°) – Confound is increased interaction as it gets warmer – However, lab research suggests that temperature is key component Color • Research demonstrates that room color does not have much of an impact • However, uniform color has been demonstrated to be related to an increase in penalties received (in both football and hockey) – Question is: Does wearing a color make you more aggressive or are referees more likely to interpret ambiguous situations as aggressive? Pornography and Violence Against Women • Presidential commission on pornography concluded that explicit sexual material in and of itself did not contribute to sexual crimes, violence against women, or other anti-social acts. • But…. Violent pornography has been shown to increase acceptance of sexual violence (Malamuth and Donnerstein). • Evidence that slasher movies have the same impact. Social Learning and Mass Media • TV is full of violent models. – 6 in 10 shows have violence. – By age 10 average child has viewed 8,000 murders on TV. – Few consequences of violence on TV. • High correlation between the amount of TV watched and viewer’s subsequent aggression – this data is correlational • Margaret Thomas demonstrated that viewing TV violence can numb people’s reactions when they are faced with real-life aggression Why does media violence affect us? • When we summarize the ideas in the research four themes arise: – Seeing others being aggressive weakens our learned inhibitions against violence. – Learn techniques, imitate. – Primes anger. Makes us more aware of anger. – Desensitization to violence.
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