This essay will evaluate biological and psychological theories of aggression and associated methods of its reduction and control. It will assess the influence of the media on pro and anti-social behaviour identifying individual, social and cultural diversity in aggressive and pro social behaviours. It will include a discussion of the origins and courses of aggression and the implication of these theories for the reduction and control of aggressive behaviour. It will also include an assessment of medial influences on pro and anti-social behaviour and a discussion of individual, social and cultural diversity in pro and anti-social behaviour.
There are different types of aggression – physical, being scratching, hitting, attacking someone with a weapon and so on, and psychological, being verbal threats, insults, threatening facial expressions and so on. There is hostile aggression where the primary intention is to inflict harm on others and instrumental aggression were the primary intention is not to harm others but to attain some other goal or purpose. The distinction between these two types of aggression is not always clear as they may be a range of other biological, social and environmental factors motivating the aggressive behaviour. There are also different theories of aggression which include biological, physiological, instinct, learning and environmental theories. A biological theory of aggression suggests that it is caused due to high levels of testosterone and Floody (1983) found that hormonal changes in women can produce aggressive behaviour. Physiological theories suggests that there are genetic causes of aggression and research says that the possession of an extra ‘Y’ chromosome can make men more aggressive. Instinct theories suggest that aggression is important in the evolutionary development, allowing individuals to adapt to their environment and survive in it. They suggest ‘aggressiveness is clearly important in competing successfully for limited resources, in defending territory and for basic survival’ (Gross,R,2001,p420). They also suggest aggressive instincts generate a drive or energy which needs to be released.
The biological approach would try to reduce aggression through the use of surgery, chemicals or drugs. Surgery on the amygdale has reduced aggression in violent people however, this would be classed as an extreme measure. Chemical castrations are used, they would administer female hormones into males through implants, injection or orally. Drugs are also used to reduce aggression, however they often produce side effects which include memory loss and the inability to concentrate. Therefore, the use of these invasive techniques and the adverse side effects of the drugs, renders these treatments for aggression ethnically problematic. The biological approach also ignores important psychological, social and environmental factors which influence aggression. Some of these being the media, aggressive children’s toys for example hammers and guns and parenting.
Another theory of aggression is Social Learning Theory which came from Albert Bandura (1962). He felt that aggression could not be explained using traditional learning theories whereby only direct reinforcement would explain new behaviours. His social learning theory suggests that we also learn through observing others. He suggests that biology creates the potential for aggression and observation is how it is then learnt. Bandura claims that children learn their aggressive responses primarily through the observation of role models with whom they identify, for example a peer, a parent. They would also learn about the consequences of aggressive behaviour by watching others succeed which is called vicarious reinforcement. By observing the consequences of aggressive behaviour for those who use it, children would gradually learn about what is considered appropriate. He suggests that in order for the social learning to take place, the...
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