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  1. 1. Aggression Behavior directed toward the goal of harming another living being, who is motivated to avoid such treatment.
  2. 2. Intentions • Intentions are a hidden process we can’t observe directly; even the people involved often don’t know why they behaved as they did or what they wanted to accomplish, so although psychologists define aggression as intentional harmdoing, they realize that determining whether aggression was intentional or not is a difficult task.
  3. 3. Theoretical Perspectives on Aggression • The role of biological factors: from instincts to the evolutionary perspective (humans are somehow ‘programmed’ for violence by their basic nature/tendencies). • Freud’s ‘death wish’ • Konrad Lorenz’s ‘fighting instinct’ • Until recently with advent of evolutionary perspective, these theories largely rejected by psychologists.
  4. 4. Evolutionary Perspective • Many psychologists still reject that aggression stems from innate factors, many now accept the possibility that genetic factors play some role in aggression (males aggressing against other males to secure mates and transmit genes to offspring, less against females who would reject them as potential mates. Females aggress against both males and females, more males. • biological/genetic factors play some role, but more complex than earlier theories suggest (Freud, Lorenz)
  5. 5. Drive Theories • Theories suggesting that aggression stems from external conditions, especially frustration, which arouse the motive to harm or injure others. This drive leads to aggression. • Frustration-aggression hypothesis: suggests that frustration is a very powerful determinant of aggression. Frustration, however, has been found to be only one of many causes of aggression.
  6. 6. Modern Theories of Aggression • Social Learning Theory: Humans are not born with various aggressive responses at their disposal but acquire them through direct experience or by observing others (living persons, those in the media and video games). Through experience and culture individuals learn: – Various ways of seeking harm to others – Which persons/groups are appropriate targets – What actions by others justify retaliation/vengeance – What situations permit or approve of aggression
  7. 7. General Aggression Model • A chain of events that may lead to aggression can be initiated by a wide range of input variables influencing affect, cognition, arousal: – Factors relating to the current situation (situational factors such as an insult, exposure to others behaving aggressively, high temp’s, a dentist’s drill, failing a test) – Factors relating to the persons involved (person factors such as traits like high irritability, certain attitudes or beliefs about violence, tendency to see perceive hostile intentions in others’ behavior, general skills related to aggression).
  8. 8. GAM and arousal, affective states and cognition Situational and individual input variables can lead to overt aggression by their impact on three basic processes: • Arousal: they may increase psychological arousal or excitement • Affective states: they can arouse hostile feelings and outward signs • Cognitions: induce one to have hostile thoughts or bring beliefs about aggression to mind
  9. 9. Anderson and Bushman (2002) expanded on GAM • Individual’s who are exposed to high levels of aggression, either directly or indirectly through media/video games, may tend to become increasingly aggressive. Repeated exposure strengthens knowledge structures r/t aggression (beliefs, attitudes, schemas). As they grow stronger, it’s easier to activate them by situational or personal inputs, and people are truly ‘primed’ for aggression.
  10. 10. Causes of Human Aggression • Social Causes – Frustration: but less so than earlier thry’s suggest, people also react w/sadness, despair, etc. not only aggression. – Direct provocation: actions by others that trigger aggression because perceived as malicious. – Heightened arousal as explained in the excitation transfer theory: arousal produced in one situation can persist and intensify emotional reactions to subsequent situations.
  11. 11. Exposure to Media Violence • Depictions of violent actions in the mass media carry much more violence than we are exposed to in real life. Exposure to media violence may be one factor contributing to real life violence in countries where such materials are viewed by large numbers of persons.
  12. 12. Media Violence Conclusions by Experts • Research indicates that violent media materials significantly increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in persons exposed to them. • Such effects are both short- and long-term. • The magnitude of these effects are large. • Effects are real, lasting and important. • (shown in lab experiments and longitudinal studies)
  13. 13. Why do media violence effects occur? • GAM theory suggests that repeated exposure to media violence can strongly affect cognitions relating to aggression, gradually creating a hostile expectation bias—a strong expectation that others will behave aggressively, which causes individuals to behave more aggressively themselves. (violent video games/reading stories study)
  14. 14. Violent Pornography • Although there is less evidence on this issue, findings suggest that exposure to violent exposure: – Can increase men’s willingness to aggress against women – Repeated exposure appears to produce a desensitizing effect, in which emotional reactions to victims of sexual mistreatment become reduced – Seems to encourage callous attitudes towards sexual violence (believe myths about rape)
  15. 15. Cultural factors in Aggression • Cultures of honor: cultures in which there are strong norms indicating that aggression is an appropriate response to insults to one’s honor. – Sexual jealousy: in culture’s of honor infidelity by women is seen as a threat to male honor and can result in drastic responses (in Iraq, unmarried women who are not virgins may be executed to protect the family’s honor). – Crimes of passion condoned in some cultures (Latin America, South of the U.S.)
  16. 16. Personal causes of Aggression • Type A behavior pattern: highly competitive, irritable and aggressive characteristics, more aggressive than type B, and more likely to engage in hostile aggression, in which the prime objective is inflicting harm on the victim (child abuse, spouse abuse higher in type A). • Type A’s are not more likely than B’s to engage in instrumental aggression, which is carried out to attain other goals aside form harming victim (praise for being ‘tough’ or controlling resources).
  17. 17. Personal Causes cont. • Perceiving Evil Intent in Others: attributions concerning the causes of others’ behavior play important role in aggression and is the basis of the hostile attributional bias, which refers to the tendency to perceive hostile intentions or motives in others’ actions when these actions are ambiguous. • Narcissism causes people to react with exceptionally high levels of aggression because of doubts about their inflated their egos so negative feedback is a threat. Also perceive themselves as victims of transgressions more often.
  18. 18. Personal Causes cont. • Gender differences: males are generally more likely to aggress and be the victims of aggression throughout the life span, yet size of differences varies across situations. Much larger gender differences seen in the absence of a provocation, when provocation is present, differences disappear. • Males higher in direct aggression, females in indirect (seen as young as 8 and increase, observed in several countries)
  19. 19. Situational determinants of Aggression • Temperature and aggression: there is a link between climate and human aggression, many people report feeling irritable and short- tempered on hot days, but beyond some level, aggression declines because people become so uncomfortable and fatigued. • Alcohol & Aggression: alcohol reduces cognitive functioning/social perception, less able to evaluate others’ intentions and the effects that behavior may produce. Effects stronger for those who normally show low levels of aggression (release-of-inhibitions effect).
  20. 20. Aggression in Long-Term Relationships • Bullying: a pattern of behavior in which one individual is chosen as the target of repeated aggression by one or more others; the target person (victim) generally has less power than those who engage in the aggression (bullies). – Motives: 1) to hold power over others and 2) to be part of a group that is ‘tough’ and so confers status on its members. – For girls, research shows also depression was a also a motive (to reduce negative feelings)
  21. 21. Characteristics of Bullies and Victims • Bullies tend to believe others act the way they do because of lasting characteristics while victims perceive others as acting as they do in part b/c they are responding to external conditions, such as how others have treated them. Bullies use the hostile attributional bias, and attack others b/c they see them as potentially dangerous and want to get the first blow.
  22. 22. Characteristics cont. • Some people are always bullies, some are always victims, some are both. • Bullies, as well as bully-victims, tend to have lower self-esteem and attack others to build up their own self-images. Plus they tend to adopt a ruthless, manipulative approach to life and to dealing with others (don’t trust, so justify taking unfair advantage of others). And they believe that responding w/aggression will bring respect and make them feel better.
  23. 23. Reducing the Occurrence of Bullying • Must be seen as a problem by all involved parties —teachers, parents, students, prisoners, guards, fellow employees, supervisors. • A person in authority must draw attention to it and stand against it. • Victims must be told exactly what to do and who see when bullying occurs. • Outside help is often useful in identifying the cause/devising programs to reduce it.
  24. 24. Workplace Aggression • Any form of behavior through which individuals seek to harm others in their workplace. Covert rather than overt (relatively subtle allowing aggressors to harm others without being identified as the source). – Expressions of hostility – Obstructionism: designed to obstruct the target’s performance – Overt aggression: physical assault, theft, etc.
  25. 25. Abusive Supervision • Behavior in which supervisors direct frequent hostile verbal and nonverbal behavior toward their subordinates (between coworkers and also among supervisors and employees). – Public and private ridicule, exclusion from activities, invasion of personal space, rude behavior, lying, taking credit for a subordinate’s work; all occur with high frequency/increasing. – Causes: perceived unfairness, societal norms, downsizing, layoffs, increase in part-time employees
  26. 26. Punishment: delivery of aversive consequences for specific actions • Major technique for reducing aggression (large fines, prison, confinement, capital punishment). • Why used? – To make amends for harm done (punishment matches the crime) – deter aggressors from such behavior in future (ease of detection matches level of punishment) – Removing dangerous people from society
  27. 27. Does punishment work? • Punishment can reduce aggression but only if it meets four basic requirements: – It must be prompt and follow aggressive acts as quickly as possible – Must be certain to occur—probability that it will follow aggressive acts must be very high – Must be strong—strong enough to be highly unpleasant to potential recipients – Must be perceived by recipients as justified or deserved
  28. 28. Cognitive interventions to reduce aggression • Apologies—admissions of wrongdoing that include a request for forgiveness—often go a long way toward defusing aggression (excuse giving can also be effective). • Preattribution—attributing annoying actions by others to unintentional causes before the provocation occurs. • Preventing yourself or others from dwelling on previous real or imagined wrongs (distracting).
  29. 29. Catharsis hypothesis • The view that providing angry persons with the opportunity to express their aggressive impulses in relatively safe ways will reduce their tendency to engage in more harmful forms of aggression (venting activities such as watching, reading about/imagining aggressive activities, aggressive play). Yet research suggests this may actually increase subsequent aggression.
  30. 30. Forgiveness: compassion instead of revenge • Giving up the desire to punish those who have hurt us, and seeking instead to act in kind, helpful ways toward them. • People who forgive more readily are higher in agreeableness and emotional stability. • Involves empathy, generous attributions and avoiding rumination about past transgressions • Forgiveness enhances psychological well- being