AQA A2 question on aggression for unit 3

AQA A2 question on aggression

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  • Created on: 26-05-10 11:35
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Theories of Aggression
Aggression is defined as "any form of behaviour directed towards the goal of harming or
injuring another living being". There are two types of aggression, hostile ­ in which the main
aim is to injure or hurt someone and instrumental aggression ­ in which aggressive behaviour
is used to obtain a reward. Many theories have been put forward to know what aggression is
and why do human beings act aggressively. Two main theories are the social learning theory
(Bandura 1965) and deindividuation (Zimbardo 1969).
The social learning theory of Bandura emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling
the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Social learning theory explains
human behavior in terms of continuous mutual interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and
environmental influences. Basic learning concepts of social learning theory are that people
can learn through observation, mental states are important to learning and Learning does not
necessarily lead to a change in behavior. In his famous "Bobo doll" studies, Bandura
demonstrated that children learn and imitate behaviors they have observed in other people.
The children in Bandura's studies observed an adult acting violently toward a Bobo doll.
When the children were later allowed to play in a room with the Bobo doll, they began to
imitate the aggressive actions they had previously observed.
Another theory of aggression is deindividuation which was proposed by Zimbardo.
Deindividuation is a psychological state of decreased selfevaluation, causing anti behavior.
According to deindividuation theory, the psychological state of deindividuation is aroused
when people join crowds or large groups. The state is characterized by reduced awareness
of self and individuality. This in turn reduces an individual's selfcontrol and their normal
behaviour. Example ­ prison experiment. In situations where people are in a position where
they can guarantee anonymity or know they will not be held responsible for their actions their
behaviour becomes aggressive and more uncontrolled.
In conclusion, social learning theory is much better at explaining inconsistencies in aggressive
behaviour (if someone is aggressive and domineering in one place and submissive in
another) it means that they have learned to behave differently in situations because
aggression brings reward in one situation but not in the other. It can also explain cultural
differences. However, social learning theory can be criticized because a hormone called
testosterone has been found in people with aggressive behaviour, this casts doubt on
aggression being a purely learned behaviour. Deindividuation not only leads to anti social
behaviour but it can also lead to prosocial behaviour.

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