Presentation on theme: "Social psychological approaches to explaining aggression Social psychological theories of aggression, for example social learning theory, deindividuation."— Presentation transcript:
Social psychological approaches to explaining aggression Social psychological theories of aggression, for example social learning theory, deindividuation Institutional aggression Biological explanations of aggression Neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression Genetic factors in aggressive behaviour Evolution and human aggression Evolutionary explanations of human aggression, including infidelity and aggression Evolutionary explanations of group display in humans, for example sport and warfare
THEORIES OF AGGRESSION
IMPORTATION MODEL (Irwin & Cressey) Prisoners bring their own social histories and traits into prison therefore are violent to start with. RESEARCH SUPPORT Harer and Steffensmeier (2006) – 58 US prisons, black inmates had significantly higher rates of violent behaviour but lower alcohol and drug-related misconduct compared to white inmates – reflected social trends outside prison THE FACTS Prisons are violent places. Violent acts in prisons risen by a third in last five years (Howard League, 2009). Murder rate in prisons can be double that in community (Wilson, 2005)
However… This prediction is not supported by other research. Study of 800+ inmates (DeLisi et al., 2004) - no evidence that violent gang membership had any bearing on violent behaviour while in prison. IDA point… Cultural bias in research. Study of 82,000 prisoners (Gaes et al., 2002) showed Hispanic prisoners more violent than average and Asian prisoners less violent. Ethnicity therefore an important determinant of institutional aggression.
DEPRIVATION MODEL (Sykes, 1952) Aggression is the product of the stressful and oppressive conditions of prison itself (crowding, heat, noise, loss of freedom) RESEARCH SUPPORT McCorkle et al. (1995) – overcrowding, lack of privacy and lack of meaningful activity significantly influence violence. Light (1990) – as overcrowding in prison increases, so does violent behaviour among inmates. THE FACTS Wilson (2010) - Most violence occurs in environments that are hot, noise polluted (e.g. shouting, banging cell doors) and overcrowded (prison population increasing year on year)
However… Many of the stresses identified by Sykes in 1952 have reduced considerably as a result of prison reform, yet violence remains high. IDA - Real-world application Wilson (1990s) – changed levels of noise, heat and crowding at HMP Woodhill, led to dramatic decrease in violent conduct. Model challenged by research by Poole and Regoli (1983). Best indicator of violence among juvenile offenders was pre- institutional violence regardless of situational factors in institution.
Serotonin, in normal levels, exerts calming, inhibitory effect on neuronal firing in the brain. Low levels of serotonin remove this inhibitory effect with the consequence that individuals less able to control impulsive and aggressive behaviour. SEROTONIN
However, if there is less serotonin in these frontal areas, there is less inhibition of the amygdala. As a result, when the amygdala is stimulated by external events, it becomes more active, causing the person to act on their impulses, and making aggression more likely. THE AMYGDALA Serotonin typically works in the frontal areas of the brain to inhibit the firing of the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls fear, anger and other emotional responses.
A major challenge to the belief that research on animals can easily be generalized to humans, was provided by the Seville Statement on Violence (1986). Scientists from 12 different countries formally challenged a number of popular beliefs based on scientific findings with animals and humans that have been used to justify violent behaviour in humans. This included the idea that human aggression is instinctual, or could be reduced to the action of neurochemicals as suggested by animal models of aggression. IDA NON-HUMAN ANIMALS IN AGGRESSION RESEARCH
Testosterone produces male characteristics, one of which is thought to be aggressive behaviour. Levels reach a peak in young males, then decline. Cortisol has an inverse relationship with aggression as low levels of cortisol are related to high levels of aggressive behaviour. TESTOSTERONE AND CORTISOL
Cortisol mediates the action of testosterone and so inhibits the likelihood of aggressive behaviour. Popma et al. (2006) found significant positive relationship between testosterone and aggression only in participants with low cortisol levels. Alternative explanation – low ANS arousal = low cortisol levels = experienced as unpleasant. Aggressive behaviour is then one way to create stressful situation to provoke ANS activation and cortisol release. EXPLAINING THE LINK
Most of what we know about the link between testosterone and aggression is from studies of males only. Some research (e.g. Archer et al, 2005) suggests that the relationship between testosterone and aggression may be even stronger among women. Eisenegger et al. (2011) found that testosterone could make women act nicer rather than more aggressively depending on the situation. This lends support to the idea that, rather than directly increasing aggression, testosterone promotes status-seeking behaviour of which aggression is one type. IDA GENDER BIAS IN RESEARCH
EVOLUTIONARY ANALYSIS OF AGGRESSION Aggression is a solution to a range of adaptive problems (e.g. deterring long- term mates from infidelity. Solving these problems enhanced the survival and reproductive benefits of the individual; hence, this mental module would have spread through the gene pool.
INFIDELITY AND JEALOUSY Cuckoldry occurs when a woman deceives a man to invest into offspring that are not his own Does it happen? Up to 13.8% of women admitted to extra-pair copulations (Baker & Bellis, 1990). So what? Cuckolded men lose both invested resources and reproductive opportunity. Then what? Men evolved mate-retention strategies driven by sexual jealousy
INFIDELITY AND JEALOUSY
A REAL-WORLD APPLICATION The majority of women cite sexual jealousy on the part of their male partner as the cause of his violence against them (Dobash and Dobash, 1984) The use of mate-retention strategies may therefore be seen as an early indication of potential violence against a female partner. Relationship counselling can then be sought before situation escalates into actual violence. IDA