ATP Social 10: Aggression Tom Farsides Aggression and violence
ATP Social 10: Aggression Tom Farsides Lecture contents Aggressive definitions Learning aggression Berkowitz’s cognitive neoassociation analysis Sex and violence in the media Dispositional considerations
ATP Social 10: Aggression Tom Farsides What is aggression? Aggression may be defined as behaviour intended to harm. (Lots of other definitions are possible.) Instrumental aggression is harm inflicted as a means to a desired end. Hostile (a.k.a., ‘emotional’) aggression is harm inflicted for its own sake. Violence is defined by Brehm et al. (2002, p. 392) as “extreme acts of aggression”.
ATP Social 10: Aggression Tom Farsides Operant conditioning Reinforcement Behaviour acquired if rewarded Positive reinforcement (add positive) Negative reinforcement (remove negative) Behaviour extinguished if punished Add negative or remove positive Boldizar (1989) Discriminative reinforcement Shaping
ATP Social 10: Aggression Tom Farsides Straus et al. (1997) Smacking promotes antisocial behaviour?
Eron et al.’s (1972) cross-lagged correlations.31.01.05.38.21-.05 ViolTV @ 19 Violman@19 ViolTV @ 9 Violboy@9
ATP Social 10: Aggression Tom Farsides Incentive Instigators: Models & authority Incentive instigators “The pull of expected benefits, rather than the push of painful treatment” (Bandura, 1983, p. 17). Anticipated consequences, internal and external (i.e., cognitive instigators). Cues to such consequences can be suggested by authority and models. Obedience is usually rewarding (and non-obedience punishing) and thus is habit-forming. Models can (i) direct, (ii) stimulus-enhance, (iii) emotionally arouse, and/or (iv) disinhibit.
ATP Social 10: Aggression Tom Farsides Regulation Outside of coercion, behaviour regulation is determined largely by its consequences. Gain, pain, and the removal of the same, can come from: External sources. –On tangible, social, or status dimensions Vicarious sources. –As above, but (i) similarity issues and (ii) variable observed consequences not effective. Self-regulatory sources. –Including distortion or disengagement of self- regulation. Extinguishing behaviour is best achieved by making possible incompatible behaviours more rewarding.
ATP Social 10: Aggression Tom Farsides Berkowitz’s (1993) cognitive neoassociation analysis Various thoughts and behavioural tendencies are associated with certain emotions and therefore become ‘primed’ when those emotions exist. Negative emotions tend to elicit cognitions leading to the experience of anger or fear, depending on: individual differences interpretation of the arousing event, and consideration of the likely consequences from any given behaviour. This ‘clarifies’ the nature of their arousal and predicts their likely behavioural response, freeze, friend, fight, or flight.
ATP Social 10: Aggression Tom Farsides Sex and violence (1): Non-sexual violent imagery Short term effects Media violence increases immediate aggression in adults and children (Geen, 1998; Wood et al., 1999). Long term effects? Amount of exposure to media violence at age 8 predicts men’s aggression at age 30, even when controlling for social class, intelligence, and parenting style. Habituation: Physiological and psychological responses become less pronounced to stimuli with repeated exposure. Increases ‘unthinking acceptance’ of that (class of) stimuli. Do we need to distinguish between (i) increasing tolerance/ignoring of such stimuli, and (ii) imitating of such stimuli? Cultivation: Mass media ‘defining’ nature and appropriate responses to it.
ATP Social 10: Aggression Tom Farsides Sex and violence (2): Non-violent sexual imagery Short term effects Non-upsetting sexual images mildly increase arousal which is labelled pleasant and leads to reduced aggression towards same- sex confederates (Donnerstein et al., 1987). Longer term effects: Zillman & Bryant (1984) Male and female college students were shown 0, 18, or 36 non-violent sexually-explicit films over a six week period. Clear habituation effects: The greater the exposure, the less arousal from new stimuli of the same class. Habituation effects led to reduced excitation-transfer: The greater the exposure, the less sexual images intensified retaliatory same-sex aggression (36 film participants less aggressive than controls). Cf. Donnerstein et al (1987) study, reviewed above. Habituation/cultivation effects seemingly decrease feminist attitudes: The greater the exposure, (i) the lighter the recommended sentence for a convicted rapist, and (ii) the lower the support expressed in favour of the women’s liberation movement.
ATP Social 10: Aggression Tom Farsides Sex and violence (3): Violent sexual imagery Check & Guloien (1989) Male participants who viewed pornography trivialising rape reported a greater willingness to force women to do something sexual against her will, and rape if guaranteed not to be caught. Malamuth & Check (1981) Male participants viewing films showing females aroused by and attracted to sexual assailants showed increased acceptance of interpersonal violence and ‘rape myth acceptance’. Female viewers showed decreased acceptance of both.
ATP Social 10: Aggression Tom Farsides Sex and violence: Tom’s conclusions (so far) From Brehm et al.’s review, I tentatively and provisionally agree with Linz et al. (1992). Aggression and negative gender stereotyping tend to encourage more of the same. Sexual imagery which (i) does not evoke aversive arousal, and (ii) does not incorporate aggression or negative sexual stereotypes is unlikely to have detrimental effects. However, People will differ in what counts as negative sexual stereotypes. People do habituate to sexual imagery and may ‘escalate’ sexual imagery to obtain equivalent levels of arousal. Escalated sexual imagery may be more likely to incorporate aggression and/or negative gender stereotypes. As always, you should, of course, make your own (justified - hopefully) decisions about this topic.
ATP Social 10: Aggression Tom Farsides Aggressively disposed people Bushman (1996) Aggressive people associate significantly more cues with aggression and hostility. They are thus especially prone to automatic activation of aggression-related thoughts. Dill et al. (1997) Chronically aggressive adults are particularly likely to expect and perceive hostility in others’ motives and behaviours. Crick & Dodge (1994) Chronically aggressive children “see hostile intent where other’s don’t” (Brehm et al., 2002, p. 415).