AQA PSYA3 - Aggression Complete Essays

These are the notes I've created for the aggression chapter of the PSYA3 exam for the AQA board.

They are the essays I learnt word for word for the June 2014 unit 3 exam. Although I haven't got my results yet I created similar notes at AS level and achieved 200/200 UMS, so I will let you know! 

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Claire
  • Created on: 22-06-14 13:45
Preview of AQA PSYA3 - Aggression Complete Essays

First 657 words of the document:

Social Psychological explanations of aggression
One social psychological explanation of aggression is Social Learning Theory (SLT),
which suggests that behaviour is shaped and maintained by its consequences. SLT suggests
that children learn to be aggressive by observing and imitating the behaviour of an
aggressive model. Children also observe whether the model's behaviour is rewarded or
punished, known as vicarious reinforcement. If the model's behaviour is rewarded then the
child will see the behaviour as worth repeating, and will therefore display aggression in order
to obtain the same reward. If a child is rewarded for being aggressive they will show
aggression again, and if they are punished they will not. Aggression is shown if the
expectation of the reward is higher than the expectation of the punishment as children form
mental representations about aggression. Children are more likely to show aggression if they
can identify with the model in some way. This occurs when the model is respected and
similar to them in some way. This follows the model represented by attention (is played to
the model), retention (behaviour is remembered), reproduction (behaviour is shown), and
motivation (the child is rewarded for this).
Research has been conducted which supports SLT as an explanation of aggression.
Bandura et al (1961) conducted a study where male and female children aged 3-5 observed
either a passive or aggressive model play with a bobo doll. The children were then given the
chance to play with it on their own. It was found that children who observed the aggressive
model hit and kick the doll displayed physical aggression resembling that of the model. This
research supports social learning theory because it shows how children can display
aggressive behaviour by observing a model, one of the key features of social learning theory.
However there are some problems with the research conducted by Bandura et al
(1961). There is a chance the children did not behave aggressively as a results of observing
the model alone. Johnston et al (1977) found the children who showed aggressive behaviour
were also rated by their teachers and peers as being more aggressive. This is a problem for
Bandura's research as it suggests aggressive behaviour may be down to the children's
personalities and not social learning theory. Perhaps aggressive behaviour is not down to
social learning theory alone.
There is evidence of Social Learning Theory being applied to real life situations. Phillips
et al (1986) found daily homicide increased in the US following a major boxing match,
suggesting the adults had imitated the behaviour they had seen on the boxing match. This
supports SLT as an explanation of aggression as it shows how aggression can occur due to
observation of an aggressive model.
There is research which supports the role of social learning theory in causing
aggression in the form of cross cultural studies. The ¡Kung San of the Kalahari desert are
passive and never reward or punish their children for being aggressive. This means that
aggression is never reinforced and the children learn to be passive through conditioning. This
supports social learning theory as an explanation of aggression as it shows how lack of
reinforcement will prevent aggression.
There are also some general limitations with using social learning theory to explain
aggressive behaviour. Social learning theory is behaviourally deterministic, because it
assumes that aggression is learnt only through our environment. This means it ignores other
plausible explanations of aggression such as biological explanations. Biological factors such
as serotonin and dopamine can also cause aggression and there are many empirical studies
to support this. This is a problems for social leaning theory as it shows it is biased towards

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

Another social psychological explanation of aggression is deindividuation theory.
Deindividuation is a process where people lose their sense of identity and engage in
antisocial behaviours due to a loss of inhibitions. LeBon (1896) states that individuals are
more likely to behave aggressively when they are a part of a large anonymous group. This is
because a collective mindset is created, causing them to become a mob.…read more

Page 3

Preview of page 3

Here's a taster:

However there are some problems with the research conducted by Harer &
Steffensmeier. The research regarding the importation model was only conducted on
prisoners within the US, rather from a range of cultures, and therefore has culture bias. We
can't be sure that if this study was replicated in a different or even non-western culture, that
the prisoners would have reacted the same way in prison as they do in society.…read more

Page 4

Preview of page 4

Here's a taster:

Mann (1990) gave 35 participants dexfenfluramine, which
decreased serotonin levels and increased aggression.
There is evidence that low levels of serotonin can cause aggression in the form of
animal studies. Raleigh (1991) fed vervet monkeys on a diet of tryptophan which is high in
serotonin. This reduced aggression in the monkey, supporting the suggestion that low
serotonin can cause aggression.…read more

Page 5

Preview of page 5

Here's a taster:

One way of investigating whether aggression is inherited is by looking at twin studies.
Monozygotic twins (MZ twins) share 100% of their genes and Dizygotic twins (DZ twins)
share 50% of their genes. If MZ twins have more similar levels of aggression and therefore a
higher concordance rate, then it is more likely that aggression is inherited. McGuffin &
Gottesman found concordance rates were 87% for MZ twins and 72% for DZ twins.…read more

Page 6

Preview of page 6

Here's a taster:

Evolutionary explanations of aggression
One evolutionary explanation of aggression in males is jealousy of the female partner, due
to the threat of parental uncertainty as a result of their partners infidelity. This cuckoldry risk
means that the men cannot be sure they are passing on their genes are fertilization is hidden
inside the mother, This is not adaptive as they cannot produce offspring who will be carrying
their genes. This causes jealousy which results in aggression.…read more

Page 7

Preview of page 7

Here's a taster:

There is research which supports the idea that men will display aggression towards
pregnant women. Tallieu and Brownridge found that women abused while pregnant were
more likely to be carrying the child of another man. This supports the evolutionary
explanation as it shows how a man will be aggressive if there is a risk of cuckoldry, to ensure
the rivals genes are eliminated.
There are however some problems with the evolutionary explanation of aggression.…read more

Page 8

Preview of page 8

Here's a taster:

There is research which supports the idea that sexual selection can happen in warfare
causing aggression. Palmer and Tilley found that male youth street gang members had more
sexual partners than ordinary young males. This supports the idea that aggression in warfare
shows dominance, and is therefore an adaptive response to increase reproductive success
so they can pass on their genes.
Further research by Leunissen and Van Vugt also supports this idea.…read more



what did you get in your essays

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all resources »