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Human Aggression PSY 321 Sanchez. “ In all of nature, there is nothing so threatening to humanity as humanity itself.” Lewis Thomas, 1981.

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Presentation on theme: "Human Aggression PSY 321 Sanchez. “ In all of nature, there is nothing so threatening to humanity as humanity itself.” Lewis Thomas, 1981."— Presentation transcript:

1 Human Aggression PSY 321 Sanchez

2 “ In all of nature, there is nothing so threatening to humanity as humanity itself.” Lewis Thomas, 1981

3 Today’s Agenda: DEFINITIONS CAUSES AND DETERMINANTS OF AGGRESSION SPECIAL CASE: MEDIA VIOLENCE REDUCING AGGRESSION

4 Aggression Aggression -- Intentional action aimed at doing harm or causing harm

5 Aggression Aggression -- Intentional action aimed at doing harm or causing harm Aggression? – Injuring someone accidentally? – Swinging a stick at someone but missing? – Insulting someone? – Deliberately failing to prevent harm?

6 Types of Aggression: Instrumental Instrumental aggression – Harm inflicted as a means to some goal other than causing pain – Goals include: Personal gain Attention Self-defense

7 Types of Aggression: Instrumental Aggression Immediate conditions – Opportunity for gain with high reward and low perceived risk Long term conditions – Poverty or other challenging economic factors – Perceive crime as primary means to resources/respect – Norms foster aggression as way to achieve resources Opportunity Rewards/ Costs Aggression as means

8 Types of Aggression: Emotional Emotional aggression – Harm inflicted for its own sake, to cause pain – Often impulsive – But can be calm, calculating

9 Types of Aggression: Emotional Aggression Immediate conditions – Threat to self-esteem, status, or respect, particularly in public situations – Aggression to save face Long term conditions – Repeated threats to self-worth or status Threat to self Anger Aggression as an end

10 Emotional Aggression: A Case Study (Katherine Newman, 2004) School shootings Commonalities: – Perpetrators had low social status, respect, and self-esteem – Communities were small, tight- knit, and isolated – Associated masculinity = violence – The small-town social structure prevented people from heeding the warning signs

11 Distinguishing Emotional from Instrumental Aggression Example: Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield’s ear – Instrumental? – Emotional? – Maybe both mechanisms are operating in most cases Can think of any purely emotional aggression example?

12 The United States: How aggressive are we? The Violent Nature of American Society ,121 Americans killed in the Vietnam War 84,644 Americans shot to death in America Homicide-by-gun rate in America 35 times higher than Germany, Denmark, or England, 7 times higher than Canada or France

13 Table 11.1: The Violent Crime Clock

14 Gender Differences Universal finding that men are more violent than women. – Differences stable over time and place. However….type of aggression matters

15 Gender & Aggression Intent to Harm – What ways can we inflict harm on others other than physical violence? Direct aggression: Verbal or physical aggression Indirect aggression: Inflicting harm in covert (nonphysical) ways – Relational aggression

16 Gender and Indirect/Direct Aggression

17 Why Are People So Aggressive? Instinct theories Freud Psychoanalytic theory Death instinct vs. life instinct Aggression – death instinct is turned outward at others Evolutionary theories Darwin Genetic survival Genetic selection for aggression Darwin Freud

18 “Modeling” Learn how to behave prosocially Learn how to behave aggressively Social Learning Theory (Bandura)

19 “Bobo” doll study ½ kids watched adult beat up doll ½ kids not exposed to the behavior Kids allowed to play with doll Results?? Social Learning Theory (Bandura)

20 Social learning clip 19 (Bobo doll)

21 Evolutionary theories Social learning theory a better question may be … When do people aggress? – Under what conditions are people likely to aggress? – What situational factors cause people to aggress? Why Are People So Aggressive?

22 When Are People Aggressive? Situational Factors Frustration-Aggression theory -- frustration always leads to aggression Study Young children in room with toys ½ can’t play with toys, then allowed to play ½ can play with toys Results: frustrated kids destroyed the toys

23 When Are People Aggressive? Situational Factors Frustration-aggression theory Closeness of goal as a factor of frustration-aggression link Study Confederate cut in line in front of people ½ time cut in front of 2 nd person in line ½ time cut in front of 12 th person in line Results: people standing behind intruder more aggressive when confederate cut 2 nd person in line (closer to their goal)

24 When Are People Aggressive? Situational Factors Frustration-Aggression theory Aggression increases when frustration is unexpected Study Students hired to call strangers for donations Students worked on a commission ½ students expected a high rate of contributions ½ students expected far less success Experiment rigged so donors did not donate Results: callers with high expectations were more verbally aggressive toward the non-donors

25 When Are People Aggressive? Situational Factors Displaced aggression Aggression not directed at source of the frustration, but at a different, lower status target Remember Dollard et al. (1939): as cotton prices went down (i.e., less income), lynchings increased

26 When Are People Aggressive? Berkowitz’s modification of frustration- aggression theory – frustration leads to anger – anger with an aggressive cue leads to aggression – aggressive cue: object associated with aggressive responses (e.g., a gun)

27 When Are People Aggressive? Berkowitz’s modification of frustration- aggression – Induced Ps to feel angry – Left in a room with gun (violent) or racket (neutral) – Ps allowed to administer “shocks” to other P – Ps gave more shocks to other when gun present

28 When Are People Aggressive? Alcohol myopia (Steele & Josephs, 1990) – Intoxication facilitates aggression by impairing cognitive processing, narrows attention – Results is more extreme, less moderated behavior – Aggressive response: often powerful and simple – Inhibiting response: often weaker and more complex

29 Heat More violent crimes (rape, murder, riots, assaults) – In summer months – In hot years – In hot cities Heat increases – Hit by pitch incidents – Horn-honking – Interpret ambiguous event in hostile terms

30 Summary: People are more aggressive when they are… Frustrated Angry Exposed to aggressive cues Drunk Hot

31 Special Case: Media Violence Does violence in the media make people more aggressive?  Statistics  TV is on 28 hrs/wk for preteens and 23 hrs/wk for teens  Prime shows average 5 or 6 acts of violence per hour  Sat morning kids’ programs average per hour  Most violent TV appears before school and after school

32 Special Case: Media Violence Does violence in the media make people more aggressive?  Conflicting opinions:  Catharsis Hypothesis  Watching violence purges aggressive tendencies  vs. Social learning  Watching violence increases aggressive tendencies  Correlational and Experimental Evidence

33 Special Case: Media Violence Procedure (Liebert & Baron, 1972) – ½ children exposed to an extremely violent show – ½ children exposed to nonviolent sporting event – Each child allowed to play in another room with a group of children – Observed aggression/violence in children’s playing

34 Television show DV: Average duration of aggressive responses

35 Effects of Other Violent Media Video Games 8 to 13-year-old boys in U.S. average 7.5 hours of video games per week 15% of male entering college students play at least 6 hours/week

36 America’s Army

37 “It’s awesome,” says James Parker, 27, a Washington computer network administrator. “You can carjack any car, go to the seedy part of town, beep the horn and pick up a prostitute. Then you take her to a dark street and the car starts shaking. When the prostitute jumps out, your money is down but your energy is full” Note: People can recover their money by killing the woman. Source: The Washington Post 8/24/02, p. A1

38 What does the research say? Anderson & Dill, 2000 Study 1 examined correlation between amount of time playing violent video games and aggressive delinquent behavior r =.46!! (quite high)

39 Anderson & Dill Study 2: Experiment College students randomly assigned to play a video game 3 times over a week Wolfenstein 3D: violent game Myst: nonviolent game DV: Level/duration of noise blast given to opponent after losing a game in the lab

40 Results of Study 2

41 Recent Meta-Analysis (Anderson & Bushman, 2001) Reviewed 54 studies with 4,200 participants Playing violent video games resulted in Increased aggression Decreased helping Increased aggressive thoughts Increased anger Increased arousal Same effects for males and females, children and adults Dr. Bushman

42 How does violent media cause aggression? Short-term effects Primes aggressive cognitions Increases arousal Increases anger Long-term effects Teaches people how to aggress People develop aggressive schemas They become desensitized to violence

43 How Can Aggression Be Reduced? Catharsis: Doesn’t work Punishment: Not a simple solution  Deterrence Theory: Punishment has to be severe, certain, and swift  Corporal punishment increases aggression (Eron et al., 1991; Straus et al., 1997; Gershoff, 2002) Remove Cues to Aggression (Berkowitz) Provide Better Role Models (Bandura)

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