WHAT IS AGGRESSION?
Textbook defines it as ‘behaviour that is intended to harm another individual’
HOWEVER, there are numerous examples of behaviours that exhibit aggression: murdering for money, verbally and physically assaulting someone, accidentally injuring someone, working persistently to sell a product, and many, many more
Almost every definition that psychologists have tried to come up with for ‘aggression’ can contradict a perfect example of something that is aggressive Important words to know...
Violence – extreme acts of aggression
Anger – strong feelings of displeasure in response to a perceived injury
Hostility – a negative, antagonistic attitude toward another person or group
Instrumental Aggression – inflicting harm, in order to obtain something of value (i.e. hiring a hit man)
Emotional Aggression – inflicting harm for its own sake (i.e. a fight at a hockey game) Is There Cultural Variation in Aggression?
Aggression varies greatly across cultures
A study done in 2002 show that the countries with the most murders were the Russian Federation, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Ukraine. The United States were very high on the list, while Canada was quite low
Subcultures exist within countries, and these subcultures are often aggressive towards each other based on attributes like age, race, gender, religion, social status, wealth etc.
Teenagers aged 14-24 were found to be involved in the most crime, and Aboriginal peoples had the highest percent of race involved in crime Does Gender Play A Role in Aggression?
Universally, men are more violent than women
Females feel the same amount of anger as males, however they are much less likely to act upon that anger
Important to note that most of these gender-related studies have been done only on PHYSICAL aggression
Boys are OVERTLY aggressive, while girls are indirectly, or relationally aggressive
“Boys may use their fists to fight, but at least it’s over with quickly; girls use their tongues, and it goes on forever” (Britt Galen and Marion Underwood, 1997)
Aggression: Innate or Learned?
ARE WE BORN AGGRESSIVE OR IS AGGRESSIVENESS
LEARNED THROUGH EXPERIENCE?
Innate aggression: an inevitable, biological inclination to violence
Learned aggression: aggression taught through experience and imitation
Aggression is Innate...
Freud and Lorenz argued that aggression is an innate, natural, and biological characteristic
Freud described his theory of the ‘death instinct’ as a being a method of escaping life by playing dead whereas the ‘life instinct’ is meant to preserve life and reproduce. Lorenz stated that the will to live and aggression are compatible in the fact that both are directed at securing the advantages necessary to survival and reproduction
However, these theories of innate aggression are cyclical in the fact that they are shut off from testable alternatives and linear reasoning (Humans are aggressive because its instinctual and we know its instinctual because humans behave aggressively) (Brehm et al. 2008)
The Role of Evolution
Aggression is seen as a way of ensuring survival. The male competes for resources and a healthy female in order to produce healthy offspring. Violence amongst males is a result of threatened status (social and economic) and is also linked with sexual jealousy (securing knowledge of paternity)
Women are explained as being aggressive to protect their offspring usually in a less confrontational method. This is explained as behavior meant to preserve the mothers life (and thus the offspring’s lives)
These views are challenged when historical, environmental and cultural differences are examined as well. Aggression can be a product of culture, through religion, sports and political and economic states (De Souza 2007) Hormones and Aggression: Are They Related?
Testosterone correlates with high levels of aggression, but this does not imply causation. Stress and...
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