What are the personal and situational factors that can lead to aggression?

Topics: Aggression, Anger, Social rejection Pages: 7 (2325 words) Published: October 23, 2014
In what was at the time named West Germany, there were 2467 cases of manslaughter or attempted murder in the one year of 1990. The rest of Europe had similar figures and the United States had an even higher number or cases (Mummendey, 1996). This begs the question as to why these events occur, and more specifically, what are the causes of this aggression? Therein lays the key to controlling and diminishing aggressive behaviour, in the identification of the factors that lead to aggression. This essay will illustrate the personal and situational factors of aggression and the theories that can be associated to them. Comment by Psychology Marker: A reference is needed to support this claim. Comment by Psychology Marker: Good to explicitly state aims of an essay like this near to the beginning.

Aggression is not easily defined as it consists of many facets. As a noun, aggression has the intent to harm. As an adjective, aggression can describe an action made with persistence and intent according to Lloyd et al. (1984: cited in Gross, 1992). Aggressive behaviour is predominantly the object of study as it is easier to observe and thus measure, than the emotion behind the intent to behave aggressively. There are also different types of aggression. Hostile aggression is to cause harm for the sake of it, whilst instrumental aggression has a purpose, such as self-defence, as written by Buss (1961: cited in Gross, 1992). Comment by Psychology Marker: Good to define key terms near the beginning.

Different factors can lead to a person behaving aggressively. There are _situational factors_, which is the environment you are experiencing, and _personal factors_, which are collectively unique to each person. But knowing these factors are not enough, the links between the factors and the aggressive behaviour are also important. To evaluate this link, there are two main schools of thought when it comes to the theories of aggression. The social theories consider aggression to be a learned behaviour from the observations and interactions in social experiences. Whereas the biological perspective argues that aggression is innate and instinctual, which is hereditarily passed down and that we are born with. Factors can be described using these theories.

Personality is a _personal factor_, and it is determined by variables such as age and gender, cultural and social backgrounds, and also through personal experiences gained over a life time. Type A personality is a syndrome which is associated with a susceptibility to coronary heart failure and overactive and excessive competitiveness. This was demonstrated in research by Baron (1989: cited in Wall & Callister, 1995) where managers with Type A personalities had higher conflict with peers and subordinates than Type B personalities. Narcissists with a sense of entitlement and high self-esteem are more likely to be aggressive (Bushman & Baumeister, 1998). Although, it can be shown that people with low self-esteem are also likely to be aggressive, as they have a poor frustration tolerance (Reynolds et al., 2013). Comment by Psychology Marker: References are needed for each of the things in this list! Comment by Psychology Marker: Type A personality is not considered a syndrome today.

Frustration exists when a person has an expected outcome and that outcome has been prevented from occurring (Dollard et al., 1957). The Frustration-Aggression Theory argues that frustration toward a particular event or person, results in aggression. This aggression is towards the frustration's source, or is displaced if that source is unavailable. This might be the case if aggression is toward an object, such as the economy, or a superior, as is shown in the study on Type A personality managers, by Baron (1989) where they had conflict with their subordinates and peers, but not with their own supervisors. However, the theory is a bit too simplistic and frustration is a difficult variable to measure. Comment by...

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Bushman, B. J. & Baumeister, R. F. (1998). Threatened Egotism, Narcissism, Self-Esteem, and Direct and Displaced Aggression: Does Self-Love or Self-Hate Lead to Violence? _Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75,_ 219-229.
Crisp, R. J. & Turner, R. N. (2010). _Essential Social Psychology (2nd Ed)_. London: SAGE Publications.
Cohn, E. & Rotton, J. (1997). Assault as a function of time and temperature: A moderator-variable time-series analysis. _Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72,_ 1322 - 1334.
Dollard, J., Miller, N. E., Doob, L. W., Mowrer, O. H. & Sears, R. R. (1957) _Frustration and aggression._ New Haven: Yale University Press.
Gross, R. D. (1992) _Psychology: The science of mind and behaviour._ London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Hogg, M. A. & Vaughan, G. M. (2011). _Social Psychology (6th Ed)._ London: Pentice Hall.
Lawrence, C. & Andrews, K. (2004). The influence of perceived prison crowding on male inmates ' perception of aggressive events. _Aggressive Behaviour, 30,_ 273 - 283.
Mummendey, A. (1996). Aggressive behaviour. In M. Hewstone, W.Stroebe & G. M. Stephenson (Eds.), Introduction to social _psychology_ (pp. 403-435). Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
Reynolds, T., Zupanick, C.E. &Dombeck, M. (2013) _Behavioural Psychological Features of Intellectual Disabilities._ Retrieved October 20th, 2013, from http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=10328&cn=208
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Wall Jr., J. A. & Callister, R. R. (1995) Conflict and Its Management. _Journal of Management, 21,_ 515-558.
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