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Chapter 14: Aggression, Altruism, and Moral Development

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1 Chapter 14: Aggression, Altruism, and Moral Development
Dr. Pelaez

2 Development of Aggression
Aggressive Acts are divided into two categories: Hostile Aggression- Aggressive acts which mainly focuses on purposely harming or injuring another individual. Instrumental Aggression- Aggressive acts which mainly focus on gaining access to objects, space and privileges. Example: A boy who hits and teases his sister and then continues to tease her for crying. This can be defined as hostile aggression. The boy can act further by taking away a toy that his sister was playing with after hitting her. This would be defined as instrumental aggression. There can be a bidirectional relationship.

3 Developmental Trends Signs of instrumental aggression begin to show at the end of the 1st year of life. Goodenough (1931) found that unfocused temper tantrums become less common between the ages of 2 and 3, as children begin to physically retaliate when frustrated or attacked by playmates. Goodenough (1931) also found that physical aggression declines and makes way for verbal forms of aggression (teasing, tattling, name-calling) between the ages of 3 and 5. Retaliatory Aggression: Aggressive acts elicited by real or imagined provocations. The overall incidence of physical and verbal aggression declines through middle childhood, as children learn to resolve disputes in more amicable ways. However, hostile aggression increases slightly at this age as children can better infer others’ harmful intents, to which they sometimes react by retaliating.

4 Developmental Trends (cont.)
Adolescents show less overtly aggressive behavior, but may turn to other forms of antisocial behavior. Relational Aggression: acts such as snubbing, withdrawing acceptance, or spreading rumors that are aimed at damaging an adversary’s self-esteem, friendships, or social status. Relational aggression in girls becomes more subtle and malicious during adolescence. Boys are more likely to express their aggression through acts like theft, truancy, substance abuse, and sexual misconduct

5 Developmental Trends Sex Differences Social Learning
Boys have higher levels of sex hormones-testosterone. By preschool, aggression was viewed to be a male attribute in their gender schemas. (Watson & Peng, 1992). Researcher’s focus more on overt rather than covert behaviors. Social Learning Aggressiveness is not a stable attribute. Aside from genetic predispositions, some children will remain highly aggressive due to their social environment and maintain aggressive habits. Only a small percentage become chronically aggressive. Historically, research shows that boys and men are more physically and more verbally aggressive, on average, than girls and women. Recent studies show that very young boys are not more aggressive than girls. Caplan et al. (1991) found that aggressive resolutions to disputes were more numerous among 1-year-olds and 2-year-olds in play groups dominated by girls. Social influences begin to show by age 2 ½ and 3 years old. Parents play rougher with boys than with girls and react more negatively to the aggressive behavior of daughters. Gender differences found in the research may be attributed to the focus on overt forms of aggression, rather than covert aggressive acts, which may be more common in girls.

6 Individual Differences in Aggressive Behavior
Proactive Aggressors Confident that aggression will result in tangible benefits. Believe that self esteem will be enhanced by being the “dominant one” over other children. Use of instrumental strategies to obtain and achieve personal goals Reactive Aggressors Display high levels of retaliatory aggression. Are suspicious and cautious of other individuals. Believe others who are dominated deserve to be dominated.

7 Is Aggressiveness a Stable Attribute?
An international longitudinal study by Cummings et al. (1989) found that the amount of moody, ill-tempered, and aggressive behavior that children display between 3 and 10 is a fairly good predictor of their aggressive or other antisocial inclinations later in life. Children who genetically predisposed to be temperamentally irritable may remain relatively aggressive over time because they regularly evoke negative reactions, which may foster aggressive responses. Other children may remain highly aggressive because they are raised in home environments that nurture and maintain aggressive habits. Nagin & Tremblay (1999) found that only 1 of 8 highly aggressive kindergarten boys remained highly aggressive as adolescents.

8 Social Information Processing Theory
Kenneth Dodge (1986) created this model to display how children prefer aggressive or non aggressive resolutions to social problems. Six stages in Social Information Processing Theory: Encode Social Cues- what is the harm doer's reaction? Interpret Social Cues- Meaning behind the action. Formulate Social Goals- resolve situation. Generate Problem Solving- Strategies to achieve goals. Evaluate Strategies- Were goals achieved? Enact a response- child responds to situation. Dodge’s (1986) theory seeks to explain how children come to favor aggressive or non aggressive solutions to social problems. Proactive aggressors usually feel liked and are less likely to quickly attribute hostile intent to a harm-doer. They are more likely to formulate an instrumental goal and expect positive outcomes. Reactive aggressors consistently expect harmful intentions under ambiguous circumstances and are more likely to become very angry and quickly retaliate in a hostile manner without considering nonaggressive solutions.

9 Dodge’s Social-Information Processing Model
Steps children take when deciding how to respond to harmdoing.

10 Victims of Peer Aggression
Passive Children Socially withdrawn Sedentary Physically weak Reluctant to fight back Do not defend themselves. Invite hostilities by not acting. Proactive Children Oppositional Restless High tempered Inclined to fight back to aggressors Involved in various fighting situations. Chronic victims are generally disliked by their peers. Most are passive victims who are socially withdrawn, sedentary, physically weak, and reluctant to fight back and rarely actively provoke harassment. Passively victimized boys often have a close, overprotective relationship with their mothers in which they have been encouraged to voice their fears and self-doubts. A smaller number of children can be described as provocative victims – oppositional, restless, and hot-tempered individuals who irritate peers and are inclined to fight back. Often display the hostile attributional bias characteristic of the reactive aggressor. Victimized children are at a risk for adjustment problems such as loneliness, anxiety, depression, further erosion of self-esteem, and dislike or avoidance of school.

11 Perpetrators of Peer Aggression
Olweus (1984, 1993) found that 10 percent of his adolescent sample could be described as habitual bullies who physically and verbally harassed another 10 percent of the sample on a regular basis. Rates are higher in younger children. Habitual bullies have often observed adult conflict and aggression at home, but have rarely been the target of aggression. They have learned that aggression pays off for the perpetrator. Bullies appear to harass their victims for personal or instrumental reasons are usually classified as proactive aggressors.

12 Cultural and Subcultural Influences on Aggression
Some cultures and ethnicities are found to be much more violent and aggressive than others. Gebusi of Papua New Guinea Teach children to be fierce and competitive and unresponsive to the needs of other individuals In relations to crime, 50% of murder is higher than any other industrialized nation. Compared to the U.S. the incidence of rape, homicide and assault are the second highest in the nation. Studies in the U.S. and U.K. found social-class differences in aggression: Youth from lower SES, particularly males from urban areas, exhibit more aggressive behavior and higher levels of delinquency than their peers in the middle class.

13 Socioeconomic Class Children from low SES usually in urban areas tend to exhibit more aggressive behavior and high levels of delinquent acts. Parents with low income have found to use physical punishment styles to discipline aggression, therefore modeling aggression rather than suppressing it. Parents with low SES live stressful and difficult lifestyles making parental monitoring difficult.

14 Families as Social Systems:
Coercive Home Environments: Breeding Grounds for Aggression and Delinquency Families as Social Systems: Patterson (1982) observed that highly aggressive children live in atypical family environments he termed coercive home environments: homes in which family members often annoy one another and use aggressive or otherwise antisocial tactics as a method of coping with aversive experiences. Negative reinforcement is important in maintaining the coercive interactions. The flow of influence is multidirectional, with coercive interactions affecting the behavior of all parties and contributing to the hostile family environment. Negative Reinforcement- maintains atypical family out of control behavior created by social environments. 1. Lack of consequences 2. Physical punishment 3. Minimal redirection

15 Coercive Home Environments as Contributors to Chronic Delinquency
Preschool Years Develop hostile attribution biases Defiant Aggressive behavior General lack of self resistance Pre-Adolescence Rejection by school peers Criticized by teachers Poor academics Poor attendance Exposure to other deviant groups Coercive parenting contributes to the development of children’s hostile attributional biases, and defiant aggressive behaviors that lead to rejection by peers and teachers. These poor outcomes may then cause parents to feel less invested in their children and be less apt to monitor their activities. Peer rejection and some educational placements expose children to other aggressive children like themselves, prompting the formation of deviant peer cliques that engage in many antisocial behaviors.

16 A Model of the Development of Chronic Antisocial Behavior
Adapted from Patterson, DeBaryshe, & Ramsey, 1989.

17 Developmental Paths Boys are more likely than girls fall into delinquency, but recently the gap is narrowing. Delinquent girls are more likely to engage in prostitution and running away, but equally as likely as boys to be involved in larcenies, substance abuse, and sexual misconduct. Delinquency Legacy: Antisocial male adolescents tend to pair up with antisocial females and have children at an earlier age. These couples expose their children to the same kind of coercive home environment that fostered their own delinquency

18 Developmental Paths Family interventions are effective for modifying antisocial behaviors. Useful interventions consist of: Parenting skills for effective child management techniques Fostering social skills in children to prevent from rejection by peers. Providing academic remediation to keep children on grade level.

19 Methods of Controlling Aggression & Antisocial Conduct
Non-aggressive Environments Play areas to minimize conflict Provide space for vigorous play to avoid accidents Payoffs for Aggression Decrease incidence of proactive aggression by identifying and eliminating reinforcing consequences. Proven Methods Incompatible response technique-ignoring undesirable conduct while reinforcing acts unrelated to these conducts. Time out Technique-discipline for misbehaving children in which they are removed from a setting until they are able to act appropriately.

20 Social Cognitive Interventions
Highly-reactive, aggressive children can benefit from social cognitive interventions. Looking for non-hostile cues associated with harm doing. Control anger Generate non-aggressive solutions to conflict.

21 Preventing Violence at School
School faculty and counselor take measures in the school environment To decrease aggressive acts amongst children. Focus on : Minimizing rewards for aggression Replacing aggression with pro-social responses Helping students control their emotions Understand feelings and intentions Seek non-aggressive solutions to conflict

22 Origins of Altruism Altruism: a selfless concern for the welfare of others that is expressed through pro-social acts such as sharing, cooperating, and helping. Toddlers are capable of being compassionate towards their companions. Individual differences in early compassion depend on temperamental variations and parent’s reactions to the child harming another child: More compassionate toddlers have parents who discipline harm doing with affective explanations (focuses attention on harm or distress the child has caused) that foster sympathy. Origins of Altruism in children: Offering toys to other children Assisting parents with chores at home Sharing material objects or food Expressing sympathy towards others Behaving compassionately toward loved ones.

23 Altruism: Individual Differences
Children’s early compassion depends heavily on: Behaviors children view amongst parents. Example: Mothers of uncompassionate toddlers use coercive tactics (verbal consequences or physical punishment) to discipline undesirable behaviors.

24 Developmental Trends in Altruism
Spontaneous self sacrifice, in terms of sharing and helping, are relatively infrequent amongst toddlers. Unless instructed by an adult or threatened by a peer, these behaviors are unlikely. This involuntary acts of compassion improve as toddlers enter the preschool age.

25 Social-Cognitive and Affective Contributors to Altruism
2 important contributors to the development of altruistic behavior: 1. Pro-social moral reasoning: the thinking that people display when deciding whether to help, share with, or comfort others when these actions could prove costly to themselves. - Eisenberg’s level of pro-social moral reasoning in children and adolescents predicts future altruism.

26 Social-Cognitive and Affective Contributors to Altruism (cont.)
Empathy: person’s ability to experience the emotions of other people. - Children’s interpretation of their own empathic arousal as concern for distressed others (sympathetic empathic arousal vs. self-oriented distress) should eventually come to promote altruism. -Social-cognitive development must take place for true empathy to develop.

27 Eisenberg’s Levels of Pro-social Moral Reasoning
Hedonistic Needs Oriented Stereotyped, approval oriented Empathic orientation Internalized values orientation

28 Social-Cognitive & Affective Contributors to Altruism

29 Social-Cognitive & Affective Contributors to Altruism
Preschoolers More geared towards concern for themselves; self serving. Adolescence Become increasingly responsive to the needs wishes and concerns of other individuals Less self centered. EX: helping someone they may dislike

30 Age Trends: Empathy-Altruism Relationship
Empathy can be better measured by the age of the child. Studies have shown children appeared empathetic by expressing feelings about misfortunes of storybook characters. Younger children lack role taking skills and insight about their personal emotions in order to understand: Why others feel and act distressed Why other are feeling aroused due to the distress.

31 How Empathy Promotes Altruism: A “Felt Responsibility” Interpretation
“Felt-Responsibility” Hypothesis: the theory that empathy may promote altruism by causing one to reflect on altruistic norms and thus to feel some obligation to help distressed others.

32 Cultural and Social Influences on Altruism
Most Altruistic Less industrialized societies Large families Children contribute to family matters Suppressed individualism Less Altruistic Western Culture competition of individual rather than group goals Few responsibilities in family Lack of self care routines Cultures differ in their endorsement or encouragement of altruism. Whiting & Whiting (1975) found that children from less industrialized societies were more altruistic than children from more industrialized societies. Cultures in which large families are common and children regularly contribute to the family welfare have more altruistic children. Individualistic societies emphasize competition and individual goals.

33 Cultural & Social Influences on Altruism

34 Reinforcing Altruism Likable and respected adults can promote children’s pro-social behavior by verbally reinforcing their acts of kindness. Children who are offered tangible rewards for their pro-social acts are not especially altruistic because they attribute their kind acts to a desire to earn incentives, rather than to a concern for others’ welfare and are less likely to make sacrifices for others when the rewards stop. Children who observe helpful models become more helpful themselves, especially if the model has a warm relationship with the child, provides a compelling rationale, and regularly practices what he preaches

35 Who raises altruistic children?
Studies of unusually charitable adults indicate they have enjoyed a warm and affectionate relationship with parents who themselves were highly concerned with the welfare of others. Parental reactions to a child’s harm doing also play an important role in the development of altruism.

36 What is Morality? These are principals or ideas that help individuals decipher right from wrong actions. A condition of feeling pride vs. guilt or unpleasant emotions As individuals grow older altruism is internalized- shifting from externally controlled actions to governing internal standards and principles

37 How Developmentalists Look at Morality
Research has centered on 3 moral components: Affective Component: the feelings that surround right or wrong actions and that motivate moral thoughts or actions. Cognitive Component: the way we conceptualize right and wrong and make decisions about how to behave. Behavioral Component: how we actually behave when we experience the temptation to lie, cheat, or violate other moral views. All contemporary theorists consider internalization to be a crucial milestone along the road to moral maturity.

38 Freud: Development of the Conscience
Emphasized moral affect. Freud’s theory of oedipal mortality: children internalize the moral standards of the same-sex parent during the phallic stage as they resolve their Oedipus or Electra complex and form a conscience or superego. Toddlers in securely attached relationships have mutually responsive relationships with their parents. These toddlers are likely to display committed compliance in which they: Are highly motivated to embrace parents agenda and comply with rules. Are sensitive to a parent’s emotional signals and judge if they have done right or wrong. Are beginning to internalize parental reactions in response to their achievements and changes. This leads them to experience shame, guilt or pride.

39 Cognitive-Developmental Theory: The Child as Moral Philosopher
Cognitive-developmentalists chart the moral reasoning that children display. Believe that children progress through invariant stages, each of which evolves from and replaces its predecessor. Believe that cognitive development and relevant social experiences underlie the growth of moral reasoning. Two major theorists: Jean Piaget & Lawrence Kohlberg

40 Piaget’s Theory of Moral Development
1. The Premoral Period: The first 5 years of life, when children are said to have little respect for or awareness of socially defined rules. 2. Heteronomous Morality: The 1st stage of moral development in which children view the rules of authority figures as sacred and unalterable. 3. Autonomous Morality: The 2nd stage of moral development, in which children realize that rules are arbitrary agreements that can be challenged and changed with the consent of the people they govern.

41 Piaget’s Model Continued…
Two factors play a role in the transition from heteronomous to autonomous morality: (1) cognitive maturation decline in egocentrism development of role-taking skills (2) social experience equal-status contact with peers lessens the child’s respect for adult authority increases self-respect and respect for peers illustrates that rules are arbitrary agreements. Critics have argued that Piaget’s theory underestimates the moral capacities of preschool and grade-school children.

42 Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development
Revised and extended Piaget’s theory. As children mature, they are faced with solving moral dilemmas. Obeying rule or authority figure Taking some action that conflicted with rules and commands while serving human needs.

43 Kohlberg’s Theory: Level 1- Pre-conventional Morality
Kohlberg believed in the levels of morality that consisted of six stages: Level 1: Pre-conventional Morality- moral judgments are based on tangible punitive consequences (stage 1) or rewarding consequences (stage 2) Stage 1: Punishment & Obedience Training- The goodness and badness of an act all depends on the consequences. Stage 2: Naïve Hedonism- individual conforms to rules in order to gain rewards or satisfy personal goals.

44 Kohlberg’s Theory: Level 2 – Conventional Morality
Level 2: Conventional Morality: Individual strives to obey rules and social norms to win others’ approval or to maintain social order. Stage 3: “Good boy” or “Good girl” Orientation- Moral behavior which is perceived to please, aid and assist others. Stage 4: Social-Order Maintaining Morality- individual considers perspectives that are generalized by others. The will of society will be reflected by the law.

45 Kohlberg’s Theory: Level 3 – Post-conventional Morality
Level 3: Post conventional Morality- Moral judgments are based on social contracts and democratic law (stage 5) or on universal principles of ethics and justice (stage 6). Stage 5: The Social Contract Orientation- Individual sees the laws as tools for expressing the will of the majority of human welfare. Stage 6: Morality of Individual Principles of Conscience- individual defines right and wrong on the basis of the self chosen ethical principles of his or her conscience.

46 Support for Kohlberg’s Theory
Longitudinal research conducted by Colby et al. (1983) on Kohlberg’s original research participants found that the moral stages do form an invariant sequence. The need for cognitive development has also found support in the literature (Walker, 1980; Tomlinson-Keasey & Keasey, 1974, etc.). Research has also shown that social-experience that occurs with peers, in advanced education settings, and in diverse, democratic societies contributes to moral development.

47 Are Kohlberg’s Stages an Invariant Sequence?
Adapted from Colby et al. (1983)

48 Morality: Product of Social Learning and Social Information Processing
Hartshorne & May ( ), conducted longitudinal study on moral character of children. Found children were inconsistent in their moral behavior Ex: Child’s willingness to cheat in one scenario did little prediction that the child would lie, cheat or steal in other scenarios.

49 Criticisms of Kohlberg’s Approach
Theory may be culturally biased in that post-conventional morality does not exist in some societies. Critics claim that the theory’s highest stages reflect a Western ideal of justice and does not account for the values of collectivist societies. Gilligan (1982, 1993) argues that the theory does not adequately represent female moral reasoning (morality of justice vs. morality of care). Another common criticism is that the theory focuses too much on moral reasoning and neglects moral affect and behavior. The theory also underestimates the moral reasoning of young children. Morality of Justice: Gilligan’s term for what she presumes to be the predominant moral orientation of males, focusing more on socially defined justice as administered through law than on compassionate concerns for human welfare. VS. Morality of Care: Gilligan’s term for what she presumes to be the dominant moral orientation of females – an orientation focusing more on compassionate concerns for human welfare than on socially defined justice as administered through law.

50 Morality as a Product of Social Learning (and Social Information Processing)
Social learning theorists claim that moral behaviors are learned in the same way that other social behaviors are: through the operation of reinforcement and punishment and through observational learning. Among the factors that promote the development of inhibitory controls are praise given for virtuous conduct, punishments that include appropriate rationales, and exposing children to (or having them serve as) models of moral restraint. Moral self-concept training is an effective alternative to punishment as a means of establishing inhibitory controls Hartshorne & May’s ( ) doctrine of specificity has been challenged recently by newer research that found that moral behaviors of a particular kind are reasonably consistent over time and across situations. Kochanska & Murray (2000) challenged this view with doctrine of specificity- social learning theory that believes moral affect, moral reasoning, & moral behavior depend more on situation one faces than an internalized set of principles.

51 Who Raises Morally Mature Children?
Martin Hoffman (1970) measured different parenting style approaches to see which was most effective in moral development. Neither love withdrawal or power assertion were effective at promoting moral maturity Induction seemed to foster development of all three aspects of morality-moral emotions, moral reasoning and moral behavior. Parent’s who rely on inductive discipline tend to have children who are morally mature Reason based discipline can be highly effective with 2 to 5 year olds, by reliably teaching them sympathy and compassion for others. Love Withdrawal- withholding attention, little affection, and creating anxiety over a loss of love. Power Assertion- Controlling child behavior with superior power such as forceful commands, physical restraint, spanking, and withdrawal of privileges. Induction- Explaining to a child why certain behaviors are wrong and should be modified by emphasizing how it has affected other people.

52 Child’s Eye View on Discipline
Siegel & Cowen (1984) asked children & adolescents ( 4-18 year olds) to evaluate disciplining strategies. Five types of transgressions were presented: Simple disobedience Causing physical harm to others Causing physical harm to oneself Causing psychological harm to others Causing physical damage Responses, from all participants, favored the preferred method to use was induction techniques.

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