How can aggression be reduced? Critically discuss in relation to theories of aggression
In this social psychology essay I will be breaching the subject of 'can aggression be reduced?' However instead of simply relating this to all forms of aggression, my main focus will be solely on childhood aggression.
This is a particularly important question, not only within the psychological community but also within everyday life. If it is possible to tackle the stem of the problem within children then it is likely not to get out hand as they grow up to be functional members of society. Initially we must first define what people think and categorise as 'Aggression'. Aggression is "a response that delivers a noxious stimuli to another organism" (Buss 1961, P28)
Paragraph 1: Modelling
The afore mentioned definition is simply one of many, however, it is the most applicable definition in relation to childhood aggression. Other definitions explain it is only aggressive if there was a malicious intent, a subject which is debatable in small children as how to you measure or identify if a small child had malicious intentions.
A possible explanation of childhood aggression could be through the process of modelling, a process that holds it's focus in social psychology and explains that when we see our role models or simply people who we look up to slightly act in a certain way we will imitate that behaviour in order to be more like them.
This theory has experiments that could be linked with an example of this is the Bandura, Ross and Ross (1961) experiment the Bobo doll experiment.
This experiment was conducted in order to establish if children witnessed aggression by an adult they would imitate this aggressive behaviour when given the opportunity. The experiment it's self was conducted on 72 aged 3-6 children with 36 of each gender to allow for generalisability across both genders.
In this experiment there was 3 stages and 3 conditions in the 1 st condition
Stage 1, modelling: 3 conditions. Condition 1, 24 children shown an aggressive model playing with a aggressive toys. Condition 2 was a non aggressive model in which the next set of 24 children where showed a model playing passively and nicely with non-aggressive toys and condition 3 was simple a control group it used the last set of 24 children and simply allowed them to play with all of the toys aggressive and non-aggressive toys without watching a model before hand.
Stage 2, aggression arousal : in this stage each child was taken into a room with an experiment filled with exciting toys one at a time and once the child started playing with the toys the experimenter taken the toy from them and say it was his favourite toy and he is saving it for other children to play with and then moved the child into the next room
stage 3, test for delayed imitation: when the children arrived in this room they where left for 20 minutes to play with the toys that where in the room and watched through a one way mirror in order to see what reaction the children would have. The room contained a wide array of toys both aggressive and non-aggressive and a 3ft bobo doll.
The result from this experiment show a multitude of things, it showed that children from the aggressive condition where far more aggressive than those from the control or non-aggressive conditions, boys are more likely to imitate models of the same gender than girls are and that boys are more likely to imitate physical aggression than girls but there was little difference in the case of verbal aggression.
To use this sense of modelling to reduce aggression in children we could possibly remove or limit the amount of exposure to aggressive models children have, especially if they 're the same gender as the child. Also it would be a good idea to lower the amount of aggressive behaviour the children see from their parents as they are the leading role models for a young child...
Krahe, B (2001). The Social Psychology of Aggression . Hove: Psychology Press ltd. 28.
McLeod, S. (2011). Bobo Doll Experiment. Available: http://www.simplypsychology.org/bobo-doll.html. Last accessed 3rd November 2014.
McLeod, S. (2007). Skinner - Operant Conditioning. Available: http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html. Last accessed 4th November 2014.
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