Soc Psy Aggression by samc




defining and measuring aggression


theoretical explanations


determinants of aggression personal situational environmental

for you to think about:

• •

types of aggression reducing aggression

defining aggression many definitions compromise: ‘physical or verbal behaviour which is intended to harm someone’ (includes physical and verbal, individual and group, hostile and instrumental)

measuring aggression observation naturalistic setting experimental setting self reports others’ reports


think about pros and cons of each

THEORIES OF AGGRESSION Aggression as innate instinct • Freud (1930) – psychodynamic theory • Lorenz (1966) ethological theory • Sociobiology Aggression as goal-directed drive • Frustration-aggression hypothesis (Dollard et al, 1939) • Berkowitz’ 1989 reformulation Aggression mediated by cognitive appraisal • Excitation-transfer model (Zillman, 1979)

Aggression as learned behaviour • Social learning theory (Bandura, 1977)

Evaluation of instinct approach

• lacks empirical evidence

based on limited & biased observation of human aggression

• relies on notion of 'energy' that is unknown, unknowable, unmeasurable

• not useful in prevention or control of aggression

Zillmann, 1979, 1988 excitation transfer model

-> aggression = a function of: learned behaviour excitation from another source

3 interpretation of arousal state -> aggressive response appropriate


aggression results from transfer of arousal from one situation to another if arousal attributed to s’thing in current situation

DETERMINANTS OF AGGRESSION Person variables • personality • gender   • genes hormones socialisation

Situational factors • aggressive cues • direct provocation

• alcohol consumption

Environmental factors

• temperature • crowding • social disadvantage • subculture of violence • mass media

Media influences
SHORT TERM EFFECTS • • priming aggressive thoughts and feelings adding to repertoire of aggressive responses weakening restraints against aggression desensitisation to victims’ suffering

• •

LONG TERM EFFECTS ? viewing violence -> incr. aggressive, OR aggressive people choose violent TV Longitudinal studies (e.g. Huesmann & Miller 1994)

=> amount of violent TV -> aggressiveness

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