Module Title and Code: AP 1149: Introduction to Development and Social Perspectives on Psychology. Assignment: How can aggression be minimised? Discuss with reference to three theories of aggression.
How can aggression be minimised? Discuss with reference to three theories of aggression. Introduction
This essay discusses how aggression can be minimised with reference to three theories of aggression. These theories are discussed in the main body of the essay with regard to the context of reducing aggression, followed by a discussion of findings and ideas for future research. The first theory is aggression as a biological phenomenon, the second theory is aggression as a response to frustration and the third is aggression as a Learned Social Approach. Firstly it is necessary to establish why it important to study aggression in psychology because if we do not understand the nature and causes of aggression we cannot understand how to deal with or reduce aggression. The study of aggression has lead to effective management techniques derived from behavioural and counselling psychology. (Hogg & Vaughan, 2008) “Aggression’ is generally defined as “behaviour intended to injure another person who does not want to be injured”. (Hogg & Vaughan, 2008, p. 446) It can come in two forms – hostile aggression and instrumental aggression. “Hostile aggression springs from anger; its goal is to injure. Instrumental aggression aims to injure, too – but only as a means to some other end”. (Myers, 2007, p. 345)
1. Aggression as a biological phenomenon
“Aggression is an innate action tendency”. (Hogg & Vaughan, 2008, p. 448) Genetics influence aggression, and a person’s temperament usually endures as Huesmann et al. explains “a child that is non aggressive at age 8 will most likely still be non aggressive at age 48” (as cited in Myers, 2007, p. 347). All humans have neural systems that facilitate aggression. In addition there is a positive correlation between aggression and testosterone levels and a negative correlation with pro social behaviour. (Harris, Rushton, Hampson & Jackson, 1996) Therefore people don’t have to learn how to behave aggressively, it comes quite naturally. To minimise (biological) aggression people have to learn how to control their aggressive tendencies. (Bushman & Huesmann, 2010) Introducing humour may block aggressive tendencies and “empathy may lead to a reduction in aggression, provided that the aggressor is not emotionally aroused to an extent that he perceives the victims suffering as a positive reinforcement”. (Krahe, 2001, p. 217) Krahe (2001) explains that a person’s genetic makeup may make the person more susceptible towards becoming an aggressive person, i.e. that there is a biologically rooted aggressive drive, but environmental factors such as temperature, noise and crowding also play a major role in determining whether or not that disposition is reinforced or counteracted. According to Myres, both Freud (Psychodynamic theorist, 1930) and Lorenz (Ethological theorist, 1974) agreed that energy needs to be released as otherwise it builds up until it explodes. In order to minimise aggression Lorenz advises that energy level should be kept below the absolute threshold and one way to do this is through playing sports. (Krahe, 2001) Blood chemistry such as alcohol and low serotonin levels influence neural sensitivity to aggression. “Alcohol enhances aggression by reducing people’s self awareness and by reducing their ability to consider consequences“. (Bartholow & Heinz, Ito & others, Steele & Southwick as cited in Myers, 2007, p. 348) We can minimise aggression here for example by eliminating or controlling the cause e.g. alcohol. Thus, spouse-battering alcoholics, when they cease their problem drinking after treatment, their violent behaviour typically ceases. However as Krahe (2001) notes people have to be aware of their behaviour and want to...