Aggression: Learned or Inherited?


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Aggression: Learned or Inherited?

  1. 1. Aggression: Learned or Inherited?<br />Created by<br />Rebecca Witt<br />Personality Theories<br />Spring 2010<br />
  2. 2. Introduction<br /> There are six approaches to personality: psychoanalytic, trait, biological, humanistic, behavioral/social and cognitive. Understanding personality is complex and difficult to pinpoint why humans behave and act the way that they do. In this power point, aggression will be discussed and how each approach looks at a trait like aggression. <br />Such as nature or nurture, is aggression learned or inherited? <br />
  3. 3. Definition of Aggression:<br />Main Entry: ag·gres·sion<br />Pronunciation: ə-ˈgre-shən<br />Function: noun<br />Etymology: Latin aggression-, aggressio attack, from aggredi to attack, from ad- + gradi to step, go — more at grade<br />Date: 1611<br />1: a forceful action or procedure (as an unprovoked attack) especially when intended to dominate or master2: the practice of making attacks or encroachments; especially: unprovoked violation by one country of the territorial integrity of another3: hostile, injurious, or destructive behavior or outlook especially when caused by frustration<br />aggression. (2010). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.Retrieved May 24, 2010, from<br />
  4. 4. Explanations, Studies and Conclusions about Aggression According to each Approach <br /><ul><li>Psychoanalytical
  5. 5. Trait
  6. 6. Biological
  7. 7. Humanistic
  8. 8. Behavioral and Social Learning
  9. 9. Cognitive </li></li></ul><li>Psychoanalytical Approach<br />Freud believed that we all have this desired to destroy ourselves (unconsciously). Our fully functioning egos do not allow for self-destruction, therefore our instinct is to turn this behavior outwardly towards others. Followers of this approach would say that aggression is caused by this unconscious death instinct. Another cause for aggressive behavior could be that our needs are not being met. Erikson believed there were eight stages of development we go through. If we do not go through all of those stages, in the order we should, we may be missing something crucial in our lives and it shows up in negative patterns or behavior like aggression. <br />
  10. 10. The Advantages and Disadvantages to the Psychoanalytical Approach:<br />Advantages<br />Disadvantages<br />Techniques by Freud are still used: dream interpretation, free association and hypnosis<br />This was a foundation for other theorists to begin their studies, using psychoanalytic concepts<br />Many hypotheses that come from this theory cannot be tested<br />A therapist may be able to bring thoughts and goals to the conscious level of the patient but that does not mean the hypothesis has been supported, or unsupported (Burger, 2011). <br />
  11. 11. Trait Approach<br />“A trait is a dimension of personality used to categorize people according to the degree to which they manifest a particular characteristic (Burger, 2011).” Individuals who believe in this approach, focus on specific differences within individuals. The idea of this is that, traits that appear early on in life, most likely are going to continue throughout one’s life. There are two main concepts that get looked at: The characteristics that are stable over time and the characteristics that are stable across different situations. For example, a person should show the same amount of aggressiveness during a fight with their spouse as they do while playing a sport (Burger, 2011). <br />
  12. 12. The Advantages and Disadvantages to the Trait Approach:<br /> Advantages<br />Disadvantages<br />Psychologists who adhere to this method use objective measures and data that they’ve collected to determine their theory, which is then studied further. <br />This approach has also been responsible for a lot of research that has been done regarding personality traits (Burger, 2011). <br />This approach focuses on traits and does not so much focus on how these traits have developed or what can be done to help people. <br />not have an agreed upon framework<br />Without this specific framework it is hard to see how research of one aspect fits the research in other aspects (Burger, 2011)<br />Trait theorists focus more on describing and predicting behavior, rather than changing it. They also do not generally look at the behavior of just one person. <br />
  13. 13. Biological Approach<br />The biological perspective also looks at aggression as being a trait that shows consistent patterns over time. However, the main point of this approach is to look at genetics and family backgrounds. Depending on how a person was raised, they may have more of an aggressive personality than others. If an individual grows up with aggressive parents then they are most likely going to grow up to be aggressive adults. A child’s disposition is usually depicted from the start as a result from the environment they lived in (Burger, 2011). <br />
  14. 14. The Advantages and Disadvantages to the Biological Approach<br />Advantages<br />Disadvantages<br />This approach has had good success in the “blank slate” concept<br />researchers have been able to modify their theories as a result of the research findings (Burger, 2011). <br />there are limits to testing theories.<br />Debate about temperment: one model describes 5, 7 and 9 temperments, which one is correct?<br />
  15. 15. Humanistic Approach<br />The humanistic approach takes the stand that we are all responsibly for our own destiny. We are responsible for our own feelings, thoughts and actions. There are four points that get focused on when using this approach: 1.) an emphasis on personal responsibility, 2.) an emphasis on the “here and now,” 3.) a focus on the phenomenology of the individual, and 4.) an emphasis on personal growth. “According to the humanistic perspective, we can’t become fully functioning individuals until we learn to live our lives as they happen (Burger, 2011).” Aggression may occur because an individual is trying to satisfy their needs. If their needs are not being met, aggressive behavior may be the result of them trying to deal with that.<br />Need for self actualization<br />
  16. 16. The Advantages and Disadvantages to the Humanistic Approach<br />Advantages <br />Disadvantages<br />more positive outlook individuals who practice this approach <br />We get so used to focuses on the negative and the psychological problems in people but this approach brings out the healthy side of things<br />using “free will” to explain human behavior<br />Science relies on the concept that events and determined and caused by other events. This idea of “free will” does not follow laws of determination and the assumptions are not made to be true. <br />being able to truly define “self-actualization”, “fully functioning”. The definitions are too vague. <br />One last criticism is that humanistic theorists make an assumption that all people are good, when in fact, is that really true (Burger, 2011)?<br />
  17. 17. Behavioral and Social LearningApproach<br />This approach differs quite a bit from the previous approaches. Individuals who believe in this approach tend to think that aggression is learned just as any other behavior is. If you are a bully and you always get to go first and get your way, you will probably use that same approach throughout life because it is rewarding. Another way aggression can be learned is from modeling behavior (Burger, 2011). For example, if a child grows up watching their parent yell at their sibling, they will learn that behavior and think it is acceptable. <br />
  18. 18. The Advantages and Disadvantages to the Behavioral/Social Learning Approach:<br />Advantages<br />Disadvantages<br />behavior modification procedures have many advantages over other therapies.<br />This approach has also had great success in working with specific populations of people, such as children or severely emotionally disturbed patients (Burger, 2011).<br />This is also an easy approach for other people to continue working with when the therapist is absent.<br />description of human personality is too narrow and does not touch enough on crucial aspects, such as, thinking, emotions, and levels of consciousness (Burger, 2011)<br />Heredity is a part of everything and some people think that this approach does not give heredity enough of a chance into the behavioral/social learning point of view <br />therapists focus on the observable behaviors, which are great, but they do not always address the real problems <br />
  19. 19. Cognitive Approach<br />This approach looks at how people process things differently. Our brains are all very similar yet very different. Some of us process things in ways others would not. If we are around violence our whole life, we may respond differently to something than someone who has never been around violence at all. This all has to do with our experience and our genetic make-up. When aggression is interrupted at an early stage, it is less likely to escalate into serious problems (Goldstein, 1999) than if it is allowed to progress.”<br />
  20. 20. The Advantages and Disadvantages to the Cognitive Approach<br />Advantages<br />Disadvantages<br />is it sits well with the current mood of psychology<br />Other areas of psychology such as the developmental and social, are working on using research that complement and extend ideas from the cognitive personality approach (Burger, 2011). <br />concepts that are too abstract <br />How can a study be done if there cannot be an agreement on clear definitions (Burger, 2011)? <br />there is no single model to organize and guide the theory or research (Burger, 2011)<br />
  21. 21. Discussion<br /> Deciding whether an issue, such as, aggression is learned or inherited is very complex. It seems there can be an argument for everything. Why do some people show patterns of aggressiveness and some show none at all? There are six theories that have been discussed. Which one is correct? They each bring many important points to the table-perhaps all the explanations are correct to some degree. If a child grew up in a nurturing, caring environment (psychoanalytical) and their needs were all met (humanistic) perhaps they would have overcome their aggressive traits. “There is a possibility that aggressiveness is relatively stable and reflects an aggressive trait (trait) (Burger, 2011).” Some people may interpret events as threatening because of what they have experienced before (cognitive) and they were treated in a negative, abusive way (behavioral/social learning). Individuals may believe that people were born with this aggressive tendency (biological). Each of these personality theories could help us better understand where aggression stems from. Maybe with more research about nature and nurture and all of these ideas, researchers can get closer to finding an answer.<br />
  22. 22. References<br />Aggression. (2010). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.<br /> Retrieved May 24, 2010, from<br />Allen, K. (2010). A Bullying Intervention System: Reducing Risk and Creating Support for Aggressive Students. Preventing School Failure, 54(3), 199-209. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.<br />Anderson, D. (2002). A psychodynamic analysis of discourse theory: understanding the influence of emotions, regression, and change. Administrative Theory & Praxis (Administrative Theory & Praxis), 24(1), 3. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.<br />Burger, Jerry M. (2011). Personality. Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning<br />Bushman, B., Baumeister, R., Thomaes, S., Ryu, E., Begeer, S., & West, S. (2009). Looking Again, and Harder, for a Link Between Low Self- Esteem and Aggression. Journal of Personality, 77(2), 427-446. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2008.00553.x.<br />Clancy, K. (2010). Chapter 12: Psychoanalysis After Freud: Neo-Freudians, Object Relations and Current Research. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Website:<br />Lang, H. (2009). Anger, aggression and hate: concepts that influenced by infant research and attachment theory—an individual psychological perspective. Psichologija / Psychology, 3993-108. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.<br />Laursen, B., Hafen, C., Rubin, K., Booth-LaForce, C., & Rose-Krasnor, L. (2010). The Distinctive Difficulties of Disagreeable Youth. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 56(1), 80-103. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.<br />McMahon, S., Felix, E., Halpert, J., & Petropoulos, L. (2009). Community violence exposure and aggression among urban adolescents: testing a cognitive mediator model. Journal of Community Psychology, 37(7), 895-910. doi:10.1002/jcop.20339.<br />Neale, T. (2010, April 12). Spanking linked to childhood aggression. Retrieved from <br />Smith, P., White, J., & Moracco, K. (2009). Becoming who we are: a theoretical explanation of gendered social structures and social networks that shape adolescent interpersonal aggression. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 33(1), 25-29. doi:10.1111/j.1471- 6402.2008.01470.x.<br />Trninić, V., Barančić, M., & Nazor, M. (2008). The five-factor model of personality and aggressiveness in prisoners and athletes. Kinesiology, 40(2), 170-181. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.<br />Tuvblad, C., Raine, A., Zheng, M., & Baker, L. (2009). Genetic and environmental stability differs in reactive and proactive aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 35(6), 437-452. doi:10.1002/ab.20319.<br />Underwood, M., Beron, K., & Rosen, L. (2009). Continuity and change in social and physical aggression from middle childhood through early adolescence. Aggressive Behavior, 35(5), 357-375. doi:10.1002/ab.20313.<br />
  23. 23. References Cont. <br /><br /><br /><br /><br />