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To what extent do situational causes explain aggressionIntroductionAggression is acting in a way with the intent of hurting another person to whom the behavior is directed. These actions may be verbal or physical and they happen unexpectedly with no apparent reason or they can result from a frustrating situation. Aggression is a term that we use every day to describe the behavior of others and possibly even ourselves.

We say that individuals are aggressive if they scream at or hurt each other, road rage in traffic, or even when they bang their fists or break something in frustration. This essay will be looking at two theories of aggression, the first being Biological theory biological factors that influence aggressive behavior, hormones, mental illness and genetics. The second theory I will be looking at is the Social learning theory this idea tries to explain human aggression through direct observation for example watching violence in the family may result to aggressive behaviors in children (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). So, to what extent do situational causes explain aggression.Aggression and violence are common occurrences in everyday society and something we are exposed to every day. Barlow and Hill (1985) Because aggression is so difficult to describe, psychologists have spent a great deal of time trying to control what should and should not be considered aggression.

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Some people are naturally more aggressive than others, but the social circumstances may either increase or decrease the chance that aggression essentially occurs. Psychologists distinguish between two different types of aggression:Impulsive aggression: Also known as affective aggression, impulsive aggression is categorized by strong emotions, usually anger. This form of aggression is not planned and often takes place in the heat of the moment. When your driving and another car driver acts recklessly in traffic and you begin shouting and criticizing the other driver, you’re experiencing impulsive aggression.

Research suggests that impulsive aggression, especially when it’s caused by angry in the brain, involving the amygdala, hypothalamus.Instrumental aggression: Also known as predatory aggression, instrumental aggression is marked by behaviours that are intended to achieve a greater goal. Hurting another person in a mugging or a sexual assault is an example of this type of aggression.

The attacker’s aim is to obtain money or sex act and harming another individual is the way to accomplish that aim. Biological factors: Men are more likely than women to engage in physical aggression. While researchers have found that women are less likely to engage in physical aggression, they also suggest that women do use non-physical forms, such as verbal aggression, relational aggression, and social rejection.

Environmental factors: How you were raised may play a role. People who grow up witnessing more forms of aggression are more likely to believe that such violence and hostility are socially acceptable. Physical factors: drink and drug addiction Drinking Alcohol Increases Aggression Perhaps not surprisingly, research has found that the drinking of alcohol increases aggression. In fact, excessive alcohol drinking is involved in much of violent crimes, including rape and murder (Abbey, Ross, McDuffie, ; McAuslan, 1996). Alcohol increases aggression for a couple of reasons.

alcohol upsets decision-making functions, which are the cognitive abilities that help us plan, organize, control emotions, and inhibit behavioural tendencies (Séguin ; Zelazo, 2005). when people are drunk, they become more self-focused and less aware of the social situation, as a result are less likely to notice the environment around them that normally prevent them from engaging aggressively and are less likely to use those social constraints to guide them. Psychoanalysis, the most well-known theory under Psychodynamic approach was founded by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). his theory on human aggression is related to the person and not the situation, and therefore an unavoidable part of human life in contrast to the social learning theory (Solomon 1974), Freud puts forward the suggestion that aggression and violence are inborn drives. This means it is something we are born with and is therefore unavoidable. The Psychodynamic approach considers both sides of the Nature/Nurture debate. Another suggestion, made by Freud’s daughter, is that a person may transform themselves into their victim to become the agent of aggression (Freud, 1946).

(Williams, 2010) Freud believed that all humans possess two basic drives from birth that contribute to personality development and behavior: the drive for aggression (Thanatos) and the drive for pleasure (Eros). Thanatos, or destructive energy, expresses itself in aggression to others, as well as self-destructive behavior. One of the earliest attempts to link genetics and aggressive behavior occurred during the 1960s, when researchers thought they had discovered a tendency for violence in men born with an extra Y chromosome. Boyer, S. (1963).

Although the studies attracted a lot of attention at the time, further examination of XYY males revealed that they did not display any particularly violent tendencies. Furthermore, XYY males are extremely rare, and thus the condition could not possibly explain the frequency and prevalence of violent behavior around the world. Researchers agree that there is probably a genetic component to aggression because violent behavior tends to run in families. However, with a behavior like aggression, it is especially difficult to separate genetic and environmental contributions.

Most likely it is possible to inherit a tendency to violence, but psychologists also stress that showing aggressive behavior in the home is the method for spreading violence. Although many psychologists believe that social learning theory can provide a very complete account of aggression (Hill, 1989), there is still the important question, if all violence is copied then how the first act of aggression occur (Hewitt, 1989). Social learning theory focuses on the individual’s communication with their environment.

The idea is that all behavior, in this circumstance aggression, is learnt socially. Bandura (1983), (Zimbardo, 1969). puts forward the idea that aggression (involve complicated skills that require extensive learning), in other words we are unable to act in an aggressive way until we learn it from our environment. Bandura (1961) conducted the famous bobo doll experiment. Cognitive theorists believe aggression is learnt rather than innate and try to understand ways in which it is learned. They highlight mental processes such as awareness and thoughts, along with the role of learning and situation in understanding aggressive behaviour.

Albert Bandura, one theorist who founded the social learning theory believed that aggression is copied rather than learned through conditioning, and that reinforcement can be indirect i.e. as reward offered to the individual copying, instead of the learner. The Bobo Doll study (Bandura, 1961) shows that watching aggression increases the chance of the onlooker acting aggressively and when the individual is praised, children learn that aggressive behaviour is acceptable. Other studies on observational learning also show how children who are exposed to violence in the family are more likely to grow up to become aggressive themselves.

(Litrownik 2003). The Stanford Prison Experiment by Haney et al. (1973) illustrated how college students assigned to act out the role of guards in a mock prison, behaved very aggressively in the cruelty they showed towards those assigned to the role of prisoners.

This is largely due to the guards wearing mirrored glasses, thus rendering them anonymous, as their eyes were not visible to the prisoners. The brutality posed by the guards can be explained in terms of social norms. The guards only did what they thought was expected of them, although the state of deindividuation did cause them to ignore personal beliefs and perform the expected aggressive behavior. This is one criticism of the study, as it did not show how real guards behave. Hence, the findings may have no real-life validity with the possibility of demand characteristics coming into play.The social learning theory also claims that cognitive thoughts that develop in the individual’s mind with experience, also affect the likelihood of aggression. One field study on street culture of young people shows how their behaviour is influenced by a code that forms a set of relaxed rules on public behaviour, and the use of violence to respond if challenged.

(Anderson, 1994)Leonard Berkowitz, one of the forerunners of cognitive neo-association theory suggests the idea of grooming, according to which violent thoughts and memories can increase the potential for aggression, even without imitating or learning aggression. In one study, he shows how individuals shown pictures of guns are more willing to punish another person than those shown no pictures of guns, (Berkowitz, 1984) The social learning theory also relies on correlation studies. Maccoby (1992) and McCord (1961) have all found that children who have experienced physical discipline from their parents are generally more aggressive than those who have not. However, is the parent’s punishment the only factor that can account for this aggressive behavior.

Conclusion According to behaviorists, behavior that is rewarded will be repeated and learned and aggression that relates to a reward praise is likely to be learned. However, there are many issues that can determine whether a person will be aggressive in a situation, one of these is whether a person’s previous experiences of aggression (either their own or aggression of another person) were good or bad experiences. Another factor is whether these previous experiences were positive or not, this then allows them to assess how likely their aggressive behavior will get them rewarded or punished in this certain situation. Finally, the cognitive, social and environmental factors that are happening at the same time, for example a person isn’t likely to act aggressive if they fear that the other person may react. On the other hand, aggression is likely to increase if person is in an aggressive situation. Aggression is an expressive response and therefore very hard to measure.

As a result, there are many explanations of the causes of aggressive behaviors. The factors that contribute to aggressive behaviors can be divided into biological and social factors. Biological factors can occur from the brain and its nervous system, through genetics or because of bio chemicals which include those that are consumed such as alcohol or the natural body chemicals such as hormones.

Social factors are influences from the environment of an individual that affects their social behaviors and these include frustrations, or social learning. Ways of reducing aggression include psychological skill training, moral education. Overall, aggression is extremely difficult to define as well as investigate as not one theory can be used to explain it fully, even though it affects our every day-to-day life, either personally or through observation.

The difficulty is when trying to measure and control this behavior because it is quite impossible to reproduce aggression in a laboratory to bring about results and findings that fully apply to real life situations.Both theories can both account for certain aspects of human aggression, but they cannot fully explain the phenomena. Biological theories such as Freud’s instinct theory fail to recognize the complex environment we live in, whilst the social learning theory neglects the role of biology. Both also fail to account for the differences that we see between humans. There is a feeling that each viewpoint seems to explain something that cannot be defined. Whilst one theory tries to explain its own defined version of aggression and it neglects another’s own definition. It can therefore be accepted that not one single theory can explain human aggression.

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Journal for The Theory of Social Behaviour, 4(2), 191-233Séguin, J. R., & Zelazo, P. D. (2005). Executive function in early physical aggression.

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, & McAuslan, P. (1996). Alcohol and dating risk factors for sexual assault among college women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20(1), 147–169.Freud, S.

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