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Chapter 12: Aggression. Why are some human beings capable of committing unspeakable atrocities towards others? Why are some societies (e.g. the U.S.)

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 12: Aggression. Why are some human beings capable of committing unspeakable atrocities towards others? Why are some societies (e.g. the U.S.)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 12: Aggression

2 Why are some human beings capable of committing unspeakable atrocities towards others? Why are some societies (e.g. the U.S.) so violent? What is the best way to punish violent people? What are the causes of terrorism? How and why do we interpret violence in various ways?

3 Generic frustration (e.g., over unreliable utilities) “ideological” (political) causes VIOLENCE Two alternate models of aggression in Iraq.

4 Social psychological approaches

5 General issues

6 Important distinctions – Intentionality important – Hostile vs. instrumental aggression – Predatory vs. Rage aggression Levinson & Flynn (1965) –Lateral hypothalamus-predatory –Medial hypothalamus—rage

7 Nature vs. nurture (again) Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan (1651) Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762) Freud – Eros vs. thanatos – Superego  regulating impulses of the ID

8 The “kitten and rat” study (Zing Yang Kuo, 1961) Two interpretations Follow-up study by Eibl-Eibesfeldt (1963)

9 Fleshing out of the “instinctive” view Sociobiological view (again) Konrad Lorenz: “Resources, food, maters, and shelter and necessary to life and to reproductive fitness. If resources are in short supply, then characteristics resulting in the acquisition of resources will be favored in the course of evolution.” The question of rape

10 Currently accepted view: “Dual influence” model (Lore & Schultz, 1993)

11 Introductory comments on Bowling for Columbine United States does not have the highest overall homicide rate (we are 25 th in the world). However, all of the other 24 are non-industrialized countries. Thus, compared to industrialized (“modern”) societies, U.S. is by far the highest. Things get worse when you consider homicides via firearms. We are 8 th and again the other seven are not industrialized (e.g. Mexico, Thailand, Columbia). Canadian homicide rate (via firearms or generally) is much lower than the U.S. But many other countries are lower still (e.g. Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Finland). Canada is NOT safer than the United States in terms of overall violent crime rate. Depending on how you compute statistics, Canada is either roughly equal or even higher than U.S.

12 United States vs. Canada United States Population – Approximately 300 million Average # homicides per year – 22,000 Average # homicides involving guns – 14,000 ~64% of all homicides due to guns Canada Population – Approximately 30 million Average # homicides per year – 650 Average # homicides involving guns – 200 ~31% of all homicides due to guns

13 Difference between U.S. and Canada due to gun control? Unlikely. Stringent gun control in Canada is relatively recent but its homicide rate via firearms has always been much lower than the U.S. – And after gun control laws passed in Canada homicide rates were relatively unchanged. Statistics internal to the United States do not appear to consistently support the idea that gun control = fewer crimes/homicides.

14 Bottom line – U.S. can safely be regarded as, by far, the most violent in the “modern” industrialized world, but this is true only with respect to homicides involving firearms. – And it is not clear why.

15 Wrap-up and summary of Bowling for Columbine

16 Cross cultural rates in aggression


18 CountryDescriptionAmount 1. Mexico13,829 2. United States 12,658 3. Poland2,170 4. France1,051 5. Germany960 6. Korea, South 955 7. United Kingdom 850 8. Italy746 9. Japan637 10. Spain494 11. Canada489 Total number of murders, 1998-2000

19 1. Mexico 0.1 per 1,000 people 2. Poland 0.1 per 1,000 people U.S. 0.04 per 1,000 people 4. Finland 0.03 per 1,000 people 5. Slovakia 0.03 per 1,000 people 6. Portugal 0.02 per 1,000 people 7. Hungary 0.02 per 1,000 people 8. S. Korea 0.02 per 1,000 people 9. France 0.02 per 1,000 people 10. Czech R. 0.02 per 1,000 people 11. Canada 0.01 per 1,000 people 12. 13. 14. 15. Total number of murders, 1998-2000, per capita

20 1.1. Mexico 0.03 per 1,000 people 2.2. United States 0.03 per 1,000 people 3.3. Slovakia 0.02 per 1,000 people 4.4. Czech Republic 0.02 per 1,000 people 5.5. Portugal 0.01 per 1,000 people 6.6. Switzerland 0.01 per 1,000 people 7.7. Canada 0.01 per 1,000 people 8.8. Germany 0.005 per 1,000 people 9.9. Hungary 0.004 per 1,000 people Total number of murders, 1998-2000, per capita, via firearms

21 Within-culture differences

22 Within-culture differences: North vs. South Murder rates Three hypotheses – Environmental – Poverty – subculture of aggression—”culture of honor”

23 Blumenthal et al. (1972) “To what extent does a man have the right to…” – kill another man in self defense Non-south  57% South  70% – Kill a person to defend his family Non-south  67% South  80% – Kill a person to defend his house Non-south  18% South  60%

24 TEN WORST STATES FOR MURDER, 2003 STATEPER 100,000 (1) Louisiana13.0 (2) Maryland9.5 (3) Mississippi9.3 (4) Nevada8.8 (5) Arizona7.9 (6) Georgia7.6 (7) South Carolina7.2 (8) California6.8 (9) Tennessee6.8 (10) Alabama6.6 TEN SAFEST STATES FOR MURDER, 2003 STATEPER 100,000 (1) Maine1.2 (2) South Dakota1.3 (3) New Hampshire1.4 (4) Iowa1.6 (5) Hawaii1.7 (6) Idaho1.8 (7) North Dakota1.9 (8) Oregon1.9 (9) Massachusetts2.2 (10) Rhode Island2.3 Source: FBI Uniform Crime ReportsFBI Uniform Crime Reports

25 Cohen, Nisbett, Bowdle, & Schwarz (1996)

26 Antecedents of Aggression

27 Mere presence of guns

28 Berkowitz and LePage (1967) 2.07 2.67 4.67 6.07 No prior insult Prior insult Mean number of shocks control Gun present

29 Hormones TESTOSTERONE SEROTONIN Less aggressive more aggressive

30 Evidence for the testosterone (T)— aggression link Injections (in animals) violent vs. non-violent prisoners Fraternity studies Side note on gay men – Old “cure” to make them straight: inject T

31 Gender: A closer look male body naturally produces much higher baseline level of T. suggests biological difference Some scary statistics Qualifications on gender effect: – Expression: overt vs. covert – Interpretation of ambiguous events – When explicitly/unambiguously provoked: gender differences smaller

32 alcohol Does not make people more aggressive per se Rather: disinhibitor – Also explains link to sexual misconduct Also: narrows attention

33 “media” effects: general considerations Correlational vs. experimental studies “One-shot” vs. long- term experimental studies Children vs. adults Be careful about availability heuristic – E.g. assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan

34 some representative experimental studies-children “One shot” experimental paradigms – Often show moderator effects Effect of media violence greater for participants already prone to aggression – Liebert and Baron, 1972 – Josephson (1987) Longer-term paradigms – Research by J. Philippe Leyens – Here, moderator effects LESS likely— – Dosage of violence seems to affect everyone

35 adults Interesting enough, most of the data here are correlational Usual cautions about causation – Johnson, 2002 – David Philips (1983, 1986) —boxing studies

36 If exposure to violence does cause aggression, WHY would this happen? Weakens inhibitions Information (Re) Labelling of emotion/mood Habituation World viewed as dangerous place

37 Sex, violence, and advertising Bushman and Bonacci (2002) TV shows: either neutral, violent, or sexual – During each of these three shows, participants were exposed to the identical nine ads Recall for brands advertised much worse for violent and sexual shows compared to neutral

38 Rape and pornography The problem of “date rape” Scripts of “no”

39 Does mere exposure to pornography increase aggression toward women? Complicating factor: Type of material Violence (toward woman) H L Sexual content H L

40 Representative study Donnerstein & Berkowitz (1981) – Prior provocation by female confederate – 3 films Aggressive/erotic (violent pornography) Purely erotic Non-erotic violence against women – DV: Intense shocks only delivered in aggressive-erotic condition – Other research shows that such films increase aggression only when the target is female.

41 Most clear, replicable effect: violent pornography has robust effect on aggression toward women Non-violent pornography has small but measurable effect Interestingly: pictures of nude women not engaged in explicit sexual activity  small trend toward reducing violence. Summary of literature (meta analysis of 30 studies; Allen et al,. 1995):

42 Reducing violent aggression

43 Is capital punishment a reliable deterrent to murder? – Your book says no. – However, this is a matter of some debate. Liberals say no Conservatives say yes.

44 Does catharsis work? Generally, no Three different types of studies – Participation in violent sports – Observing sports – Direct aggression toward original source (Geen et al., 1975) SO: Venting is NOT a reliable way to reduce anger!

45 Well, what does work? Sounds corny, but it’s true: count to 10 Expressing emotion to other person, not “venting” Self awareness Diffusion of anger through apology Modeling Training/building empathy

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