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Aggression Social Psychology Chapter 11 October 22, 2004 Class #9.

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Presentation on theme: "Aggression Social Psychology Chapter 11 October 22, 2004 Class #9."— Presentation transcript:


2 Aggression Social Psychology Chapter 11 October 22, 2004 Class #9


4 What is Aggression? Behavior intended to injure another –It is behavior (not angry feelings) –It is intended (not accidental harm) –It is aimed at hurting (not assertiveness or playfulness)

5 Kayla Rowland, murdered by another 6 year old Father of murderer said his son spent his time “watching violent movies and TV”

6 Highly publicized examples…

7 The Violent Crime Clock Based on Federal Bureau of Investigations statistics

8 Type of Aggression Indirect Aggression Direct Aggression Emotional Aggression Instrumental Aggression Definition Example

9 Type of Aggression Attempt to hurt another without obvious face- to-face conflict Indirect Aggression Spreading a rumor that your ex- romantic partner has a sexually transmitted disease Direct Aggression Emotional Aggression Instrumental Aggression DefinitionExample

10 Type of Aggression Indirect Aggression Direct Aggression DefinitionExample Behavior intended to hurt someone “to his or her face” A hockey player punches another player Emotional Aggression Instrumental Aggression

11 Type of Aggression Indirect Aggression Direct Aggression Emotional Aggression Instrumental Aggression DefinitionExample Hurtful behavior that stems from angry feelings A child throws a temper tantrum after mom refuses to buy candy

12 Type of Aggression Indirect Aggression Direct Aggression Emotional Aggression Instrumental Aggression DefinitionExample Hurting another to accomplish another (non- aggressive) goal A mother spanks a child to discourage him from repeating a tantrum

13 Gender Differences in Aggression This may depend on your definition… –There is no clear sex difference in reporting feelings of anger –Women are more prone to experience feelings of jealousy in relationships –Women are more likely to use physical aggression against partners (e.g. slapping) –Girls use more indirect aggression (e.g., spreading rumors)

14 Gender Differences in Aggression But men’s aggression is more likely to do physical harm Men commit the vast majority of homicides -- >

15 Throughout history, men have committed the vast majority of homicides. This graph depicts data from the United States over the last 3 decades 100100 7575 2525 00 5050 Percentage of Total FBI homicides 1961- 1965 1966- 1970 1971- 1975 1976- 1980 1981- 1985 1986- 1990 1991- 1995 1996- 2000 Men Women

16 Aggressive Behavior: Early Views Freud hypothesized a “death instinct” to explain roots of aggression… –Which he said was challenged by a “life instinct”

17 Aggression and Adaptive Goals A drive towards aggressiveness could only evolve if it increased the chances of survival or reproduction A drive toward “blind aggression” would be maladaptive Aggression is thus unlikely to be a goal in itself, but should instead be linked to particular goals in particular situations

18 Is Aggression Innate? Evolutionary Psychology Emphasis placed on genetic survival rather than survival of the individual –Accounts for inhibition of aggression against genetically related others Daly and Wilson (1988, 2000) –Birth parents much less likely to abuse biological children than stepparents are to harm their stepchildren

19 Is Aggression Innate? Evolutionary Psychology Why gender differences? –Males aggress to achieve and maintain status –Females aggress to protect offspring

20 Is Aggression Innate? The Role of Testosterone Are there specific biological factors that influence aggression? –Strong positive correlation between testosterone levels and aggression Dabbs (1996) –“Crude” fraternities > “Smart” fraternities –But correlation is not causation!

21 The Role of Testosterone Testosterone –Hormone linked to masculine body development and behavior in a wide range of species –Hens given testosterone act like roosters, and rise in dominance hierarchy

22 Sex and Testosterone Social psychologist Jim Dabbs & colleagues found high testosterone levels in: –Aggressive boys –Violent criminals –Men and women with criminal records –Military veterans who went AWOL or got into trouble after their service

23 Sex and Testosterone Dutch psychologist Stephanie VanGoozen & colleagues (1995, 1997) studied people undergoing sex change operations: –Women changing to men got testosterone injections – became more aggressive and sexual –Men changing to women got testosterone suppressants – became less aggressive and sexual

24 Blocked Pathways to Success Dabbs and Morris (1990) searched records of 4,462 U.S. military veterans, now in their 30s and 40s: –They divided men into those from: relatively low socio-economic status middle and upper class backgrounds And then compared the groups for evidence of antisocial behavior before, during, or after military service

25 5050 3030 10101010 10101010 00 Low SES Low SES Dabbs & Morris (1990) 4040 High SES But not in men of higher socio- economic status, who presumably had other paths to attain status Percentage with High Levels of Delinquency Normal testosterone 2020 High testosterone was associated with delinquent behaviors in men of low socio-economic status High testosterone

26 Is Aggression Innate? The Role of Serotonin The neurotransmitter serotonin appears to restrain impulsive acts of aggression –Low levels of serotonin associated with high levels of aggression –Boosting serotonin can dampen aggressiveness But is the lack of serotonin an innate cause of aggression?

27 Role of Learning and Culture in Aggression Aggressive behavior is more common in individualist than in collectivist cultures Many learn aggressive responses by watching others –e.g., Bandura’s “Bobo doll” experiments People become aggressive when rewarded for aggressiveness and less aggressive when punished for aggression

28 Social Learning Theory of Aggression Theory that aggressive behavior is learned through: –Direct Reward Example: father buys son an ice cream after he wins a fight –Observing Others Being Rewarded for Aggressiveness Example: a television character wins the girl of his dreams as a result of killing several people

29 Glamorizing Violence Plagens, et al. (1991) –Typical American child sees 200,000 acts of violence on TV by age 18 –Children who watch a lot of violent TV are more violent towards peers –Experimental studies, in which violence is controlled, also find effects of watching violence

30 Other studies have found… By the end of elementary school, a typical American child will have seen: –8,000 murders –More than 100,000 other acts of violence 2003 study (Parents Television Council) found 534 separate episodes of prime-time violence during a 2 week period The most violent TV shows are targeted to children (e.g., cartoons)

31 Space Blaster Doomsday Version 2.5

32 In this video game, it appears you win by beheading the guy???

33 Violent Video Games Several studies have shown significant results indicating that playing violent video games is associated with a history of property destruction and hitting other students… –Anderson & Dill (2000) College students randomly assigned to play a violent video game (Wulfenstein) later had more aggressive thoughts and feelings than those who played a nonviolent game (Tetrix)

34 Dilemma for parents about letting children watch television and play video games –parents find video a good babysitter –parents believe video can sometimes be educational tool Experts suggest parents turn off the TV to avoid exposing children to video violence The Challenge of Video

35 The Evidence on Content Children, especially males, who watched educational television became teens who earned higher grades, read more Children, especially females, who watched violent television had lower grades

36 The Evidence on Content Content of video games crucial reason behind great concern of developmental researchers -research shows that violent TV and video games push children to be more violent than they normally would be computer games probably worse, as children are doing the virtual killing

37 How Strong is the Relationship Between Media Violence and Real-World Aggression? From Dorothy G. Singer and Jerome L. Singer (eds.), Handbook of Children and the Media. Copyright © by Sage Publications, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications, Inc.

38 Immediate Effects of Media Violence Aggressive models increase aggressive behavior among children and adults –Models can be live or on film Violent imagery in the music industry associated feelings of hostility and aggressive thoughts Playing violent video games can increase aggressive thoughts and behaviors

39 Long-Term Effects of Media Violence Exposure to TV violence at ages 6-9 positively correlated with aggression as adults –No gender difference Cross-cultural study found relationship between early viewing of TV violence and later aggression

40 Black & Bevan (1992) Movie-goers filled out an aggression questionnaire as they entered, or left: a violent movie, or a nonviolent movie… DV: aggression IV: type of movie

41 Procedures Subjects were randomly picked as they went to view violent movie or romantic film In both cases, they were asked to fill out pretest questionnaire on aggression After viewing the movie, they were again asked to fill out another questionnaire on aggression (posttest)

42 Results and Implication Those watching the violent movie were more aggressive to begin with They became even more aggressive after watching the violent movie Implication: –Watching Violence Magnifies Violent Inclinations

43 Culture of Honor A set of societal norms whose central idea is that people (particularly men) should be ready to defend their honor with violent retaliation if necessary… –Southern U.S. has more honor-related homicides (Nisbett et al., 1995) –Southern students respond more aggressively to an insult in a lab setting (Cohen, et al., 1996)

44 Competition for Mates Palmer (1993) observed two teams of amateur hockey players in Canada… –One team was made up of older, married players –Another was composed of younger, mostly unmarried men

45 100100 5050 00 Humorous Humorous Palmer (1993) 7575 Cool Overaggression But younger players hostility was more likely to be cold and instrumental or angry Percentage of Hockey Games Older players 2525 Aggressive behavior by older, married players was more likely to be humorous Younger players AngryAngry Type of Aggressive Behavior

46 Competition for Mates Palmer(1993) suggested that the pattern of aggression in hockey players is similar to the pattern found in homicides… –Older men who have attracted mates are in a position to laugh off threats to their relative status –For younger men who have not yet established themselves the competition for status is more serious

47 Self-protective aggression can increase danger Center for Disease Control (1991) –This study found 1 in 5 H.S. students reported carrying a gun to school in preceding month

48 Self-protective aggression can increase danger Kellerman et al. (1993) –Adults also often purchase guns for self- defense –But guns are most often turned against friends, acquaintances, or self –Owning a gun triples chance of being killed

49 Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis Original –The theory that aggression is an automatic response to any blocking of goal-directed behavior Revised –The theory that any unpleasant stimulation will lead to emotional aggression to the extent that it generates unpleasant feelings

50 Lets take a closer look at what makes us angry/aggressive? Anderson and Anderson (1984, 1998) –Found that uncomfortably hot weather heightened aggressive reactions Source: Anderson, C. A. & Anderson, K. P. (1998)

51 Anderson (1987) (Anderson, Bushman, & Groom (1996) Time period studies show that violent crimes are more likely to occur during warm-weather months than on cold weather months, and also that violent crimes tend to be more common in hot years than in cooler years and that the usual summer increase in violent crime is magnified during hotter years

52 Unpleasant Situations: Sweltering heat Increases in temperature are associated with: –More aggressive horn-honking –Increases in assaults –Increases in murders –Increases in urban riots –Major league pitchers throwing more balls at batters Reifman, Larrick, & Fein, 1991(see next slide –>)

53 below 70 70-7980-89 90 + Players Hit Per Game 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6

54 Feelings of Arousal and Irritability Excitation Transfer Theory –Theory that anger is physiologically similar to other emotional states –And any form of emotional arousal can enhance aggressive responses Example: Students were more aggressive after watching nonviolent erotic films or riding an exercise bike (Cantor et al., 1978)

55 Cognitive Neoassociation Analysis Theory that feelings and thoughts interact –Unpleasant experiences create negative affect –Negative affect stimulates associations connected with anger and fear How one responds to these automatic thoughts and emotions is influenced by higher level cognitive processing

56 Negative Feelings Unpleasant Experiences (pain, heat, etc.) Angry thoughts and associations Fearful thoughts and associations Flight OR Angry thoughts and associations FightFight

57 Negative Feelings Unpleasant Experiences (pain, heat, etc.) Fearful thoughts and associations Flight OR Angry thoughts and associations Fight Objects or Events Priming Aggression Angry thoughts and associations Fight

58 Frustrations, Perception, and Personal Choices Weapons effect –The tendency for weapons, such as guns, to enhance aggressive thoughts, feelings, and actions

59 Berkowitz & LePage (1967) Procedures: –Subjects made angry by an insulting confederate gave more electric shock DV: –Aggression Determined by # of shocks administered IV1: –Type of visible object IV2: –Actions of confederate

60 66 44 22 11 Other Subject Rewarding 55 Other Subject Annoying But annoyed participants delivered more shocks when guns were present Number of Shocks Delivered to Other Subject Weapons Present 33 Weapons did not increase aggression when participants were not annoyed No Weapons Present

61 Higher Order Cognition: Cognitive Control Deliberate, thoughtful consideration of the situation can influence aggression Aggression can be reduced because of mitigating information –Information the person should not be held fully responsible for aggressive actions. Some people exhibit a hostile attribution bias

62 Alcohol and Aggression Alcohol, like high arousal, can impair the cognitive control of aggression How does alcohol increase aggression? –Alcohol reduces anxiety, which lowers inhibitions against aggression –Intoxication causes alcohol myopia, a disruption in the way we process information

63 Pornography and Aggression Positive correlation for men between exposure to pornography and reported sexually aggressive behaviors and attitudes But what is pornography? –Often a matter of personal opinion –Pornography refers to explicit sexual material, regardless of its moral or aesthetic qualities

64 Nonviolent Pornography Arousal-affect model revisited Nonviolent pornography can increase men’s aggression against women –But only when restraints that ordinarily inhibit male-to-female aggression are reduced Little support for direct causal link between pornography use and sexual aggression

65 Violent Pornography Adding violence to pornography increases possibility of harmful effects –Brings together high arousal, negative emotional reactions, and aggressive thoughts Male-to-female aggression is markedly increased after exposure to violent pornography

66 When Provocation Isn’t Necessary

67 Intimate Violence Sexual Aggression Among College Students: –Of the 3,187 females surveyed on 32 college campuses: Over 25% reported having experienced either an attempted or completed rape since age 14 Over 50% of these assaults occurred during a date

68 Factors Associated with Sexual Aggression Among College Students Gender –Men are more likely to engage in coercive behavior in order to obtain sex Alcohol consumption Attitudes toward rape and toward women

69 Marx et al. (1999) Marx et al., 1999.

70 Physical Aggression Between Partners Partner abuse is a worldwide phenomenon. Higher levels of wife-to-husband violence reported than husband-to-wife abuse –Consequences of aggression between partners tend to be much more damaging to women Violence between partners caused by multiple factors

71 Child Abuse Estimated over a million children are physically abused and over 150,000 are sexually abused Most severe abuse is often inflicted by parents and caretakers –Boys suffer more physical abuse than girls do –Mothers are more likely to physically abuse their children –Girls suffer more sexual abuse than do boys –Fathers are more likely to sexually abuse their children

72 Reducing Aggression: Situational and Sociocultural Factors Reduce stressors such as frustration, discomfort, and provocation Teach and model nonviolent responses to frustrations and social problems Emphasize cooperation over competitiveness Change cost-reward payoffs associated with aggression

73 Reducing Aggression: Media Effects Censorship? Education may be most effective approach –Increase critical viewing skills

74 Reducing Aggression: Intimate Violence Sex education programs that: –Emphasize desirability of being respectful and considerate towards one’s partner –Debunk rape myths –Increase sensitivity Provide family members with educational and employment opportunities to reduce family violence Note: Several slides in this presentation prepared by:

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