aggression n.
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  1. Aggression Chapter 12

  2. Exam #3

  3. Aggression • Intentionalbehavior aimed at causing either physical or psychological pain • Can be verbal or physical, may succeed or not • Intent is critical • Hostile Aggression: stems from feelings of anger and is aimed at inflicting pain • Instrumental Aggression: a means to a goal other than causing pain (think contact sports) • Assertiveness: standing up for one’s own rights, working hard, being ambitions…NOT THE SAME AS AGGRESSIVENESS

  4. Back to Nature/Nurture • Is aggression learned or inborn? • As with everything else, probably both • Freud (1930) competitive drives • Eros: instinct toward life • Thanatos: instinctual drive toward death, leads to aggression • Hydraulic Theory: aggressive (or sexual, per Freud) energy must be released…or re-channeled…or else it will explode • Catharsis: idea that “blowing off steam” by performing an aggressive act, watching others be aggressive, or fantasizing about aggression relieves built up aggression, thus reducing the likelihood of future aggressive behavior • Little empirical evidence in support: much against • Patterson (1974) • Ebbesen, Duncah, & Konecni (1975)

  5. When Good Animals Go Bad… • Evolutionary input on aggression • Rethinking instinct • Zing Yang Kuo (1961) • Eibl-Eibesfeldt (1963) • Lorenz (1966) • Situational Influences • Scott (1958) • Bottom line? • Apparently aggression has evolved because it has survival value • BUT…nearly all organisms have also evolved strong inhibitory mechanisms (not ALWAYS adaptive to be aggressive!)

  6. Cross-cultural Aggression • Humans may have an inborn tendency to strike out against the perpetrator in response to provocative stimuli • But for humans, innate patterns of behavior are INFINATELY modifiable and flexible • WE CAN CONTROL OUR BEHAVIOR • European history is one war after the other: many primitive tribal histories are peaceful across generations • Situational factors re-appear • Iroquois Indians (Hunt, 1940) • Southern “Culture of Honor” • Nisbett (1993) • Cohen, Nisbett, Bowdle, & Schwarz (1996)

  7. Neurology of Aggression (insert your scream here) • Amygdala: structure in the limbic system associated with aggressive behaviors • Located in temporal lobe • Stimulation turns docile organisms violent: Inhibition turns violent organisms docile • Still under social influence: may not attack but flee instead if stimulated in the presence of more dangerous stimuli

  8. Dance of the Neurotransmitters • Serotonin: occurs naturally in the midbrain; low levels associated with aggression, high levels inhibit aggression • Violent criminals shown to have unusually low levels (Davidson, Putnam, & Larson, 2000) • Depletion of Violent criminals shown to have unusually low levels (Davidson, Putnam, & Larson, 2000) • Depletion of tryptophan (serotonin precursor) increases aggression in normal humans (Bjork et al., 1999)

  9. Dance Take 2 • Testosterone: the male sex hormone secreted by testes: high levels associated with increased aggression • Injections of testosterone in animals increases aggression (Moyer, 1983) • Naturally occurring levels higher among prisoners convicted of violent crimes than those convicted of non-violent crimes (Dabbs et al., 1995: 1988) • Juvenile delinquents have higher levels than college students • Males in more rambunctious frats have higher levels than males in less trouble-associated fraternities • What about women? Are they less aggressive with less testosterone? • Yes. But women aggress in less overt ways (gossip, etc.) • React as aggressively as men when provoked: less w/o provocation • More men arrested for violent crime: women tend toward property • Women tend to feel more guilty if they do aggress

  10. Bottoms up! • Alcohol as the great “social lubricant” • Lowers inhibitions • Increases aggression • Link remains even without provocation and if person is not normally aggressive even when sober • 75% of persons arrested for violent crimes were legally drunk at time of arrest (Shupe, 1954) • Pain discomfort also lead to aggression • Animals and humans • Lash out irrationally

  11. The Long, Hot Summer • Carlsmith & Anderson (1979) • Investigated the assumed tendency for civil unrests to increase as temperatures increase (leading to more summer riots) • Studied occurrences in 79 cities from 1967-1971 • Riots were FAR more likely to occur on hot days than cold days • The hotter the temp, the greater likelihood for violent crime…works in the lab too • Reifman, Larrick, & Fein (1988) • Kenrick & MacFarlane (1986)

  12. When Others Hack Us Off • Frustration can be a key catalyst to aggression • The Frustration-Aggression Theory • Barker, Dembo, & Lewin (1941) • Children led to a room of toys then prevented from playing with them for a LONG time. Other kids got to play right away. The frustrated children, when finally allowed to touch the toys, were FAR more destructive than kids allowed to play right away • How close to your goal you are is a factor: greater the expectation the more likely the aggression • Aggression also increases when frustration is unexpected • Relative Deprivation: perception that you (or your group) have less than you deserve, less than you have been led to expect or less than people similar to you have

  13. Direct Provocation • Aggression may stem from the need to reciprocate following aggressive behavior from another person • “Turn the Other Cheek”…not so much in practice • Baron (1988) • Subjects retaliated more if they were criticized harshly than if they were criticized gently • If provocation is unintentional, less likelihood of retaliation

  14. Some Social Psych Thoughts on Gun Control • Aggressive Stimulus: object associated with aggressive responses (e.g. guns) whose mere presence can increase the probability of aggression • Le Page (1967): made subjects angry in a room with a gun or a neutral object; gave them opportunity to shock another student: those in presence of a gun gave more intense shocks than those with the neutral object • Seattle vs. Vancouver • Correlation between homicide and gun availability • Archer & McDaniel (1995)

  15. Violence Modeled • Famous “Bobo Doll” study (Bandura, 1961: 1963) • Social Learning Theory: we learn social behavior from watching & imitating others • Violence in the Media • Average child watches 2-4hrs of TV a day • Some stats say 58% of all TV contains violence • Of those, 78% did not contain remorse or penalties • 40% of violent incidents initiated by the “hero” • By the time the average American child graduates from elementary school, would have seen 8,000 TV murders and 100,000 other acts of violence • High correlation between amount of violence watched and subject’s subsequent aggressiveness: strength of correlation increases with age • Priming?? • Desensitization?? • Video games…Kentucky School Shooting

  16. 5 Reactions to Media Violence • If they can do it, so can I. • Oh!!! So THAT’S how you do it! • I think it must be aggressive feelings that I’m experiencing. • Yeah yeah, another beating. Yeah yeah, another car chase…what else is on? • Looks like I should be sure to get “him” before “he” gets me!

  17. Pornography & Violence Toward Women XXX XXX • Almost ½ of rapes or attempted rapes are “date” or “acquaintance” rapes • Partly due to scripts: ways of behaving socially we learn implicitly from our culture • Where do we read those scripts? • Violent Pornography: porn containing an element of violence against women • Exposure to violent pornography promotes greater acceptance of violence toward women • Donnerstein & Berkowitz (1981) • Malamuth (1981) • What about “non-violent” pornography?

  18. Where does punishment get us? • Does punishment just serve as a social model? • Recall DV cycle of violence • Does punishment work? • Remember, must be swift, certain, and severe • But recall cognitive dissonance…maybe threat of mild punishment is better • Sherman & Berk (1984) • Lower recidivism rates of DV abusers who were arrested than abusers who were counseled on scene or told to go ‘cool off’

  19. Still Waters Run Deep • What should we do with our anger? • Internalize? Recall the negative health effects • Too hard to internalize…may explode later • Active enabling: employing anger management devices like “counting to 10”, taking deep breaths, etc. • Venting? Good if non-violent & non-demeaning • Talk to others…both those involved & 3rd parties • If the other person apologizes, aggression reduced • Model non-aggressive problem solving to children • Build empathy and teach it to children YOUNG

  20. April 20, 1999 • 2 teenage killers, Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold • Weapons • 1 TEC 9, semi-automatic pistol • 1 sawed off shotgun • 1 pump-action shotgun • 1 9mm semiautomatic rifle • More than 30 bombs & booby-traps • Included 1 35lb propane bomb that would have leveled the building • Bombs in each of their cars set to go off after emergency personnel had arrived to increase casualties: did go off during defusing later • Bomb set miles away to distract emergency personnel and delay response time • 20+ pipe bombs filled with nails, glass, etc. to increase body count • Killers left manifesto stating their intentions, hoping for a 250 person death toll • Took their own lives and 13 others in the end

  21. Cassie Bernall Steven Curnow Corey Depooter Kelly Flemming Matthew Kechter Daniel Mauser Daniel Rohrbough DaveSaunders Rachel Scott Isaiah Shoels John Tomlin Lauren Townsend Kyle Velasquez

  22. A whole new model • Prior to Columbine, law enforcement designed to handle a hostage situation, not an active shooter • Previously unseen type of aggression: Teenagers with NO respect for life • SWAT made initial entry but were repelled by fire • Since Columbine, FBI and local law enforcement have re-designed their response to overt acts of aggression • Rapid Emergency Deployment: actively engage aggressor and draw aggression away from victims…flies in face of previous approaches (containment and negotiation); proactive hunt for aggressor(s) • New model in more ways than one: copycats