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Biological causes
of aggression
Biochemical (serotonin and
testosterone), brain structure and
genetics…read more

Slide 2

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Serotonin and aggression (biochemical)
Davidson ­ serotonin may have inhibitory function on
aggression so high levels of serotonin reduces aggressive
levels. Serotonin a neurotransmitter has a calming effect on
the body.
- When comparing violent criminals and non-violent
criminals, levels of serotonin found in violent criminals
was much lower.
- Serotonin can have effects on the body, low serotonin in
the brain leads to impulsive behaviour, aggression,
overeating, depression, alcohol abuse and violent
suicide.…read more

Slide 3

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Serotonin and aggression (biochemical)
Animal research also supports this:
- Mice where the serotonin 1 B receptor was not functioning
found increase in aggressive behaviour
-Vervet monkeys where serotonin levels where decreased
and the monkeys aggressive behaviour increased. When
serotonin levels where increased the aggressive behaviour
- white foxes that had been tamed by humans for over 30
years had high levels of serotonin)…read more

Slide 4

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Serotonin and aggression (biochemical)
Reducing levels of serotonin causes an increase in
aggressive tendencies as low levels of serotonin are linked
to impulsive and explosive acts of violence. Caution is
needed over such findings as globally acting serotonin
drugs which increase levels of serotonin do not modify
levels of aggression.…read more

Slide 5

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Serotonin and aggression evaluation
· The studies cannot be generalised as most where done in
western cultures
· Animals are completely different species so will react
differently to humans however monkeys are very similar
species so the findings are backed up
· Lots of studies showing consistent results shows accuracy
· Determinist as low levels of serotonin causes person to be
aggressive no free will
· Nature nurture argument. Is serotonin purely biological or does
the persons surroundings effect their serotonin levels (shown
in fact white foxes where tamed)
· Serotonin was not measured at the time of aggressive
behaviour as this is very hard to do, not entirely accurate
results.…read more

Slide 6

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Testosterone and aggression
Testosterone is associated with athletic qualities
including aggressive behaviour. This is supported by
the fact that when testing 94 athletes their testosterone
levels deferred according to the sport that they played,
more aggressive sports had higher testosterone levels.
However there is a small sample size so it cannot be
generalised to whole population.
Another study found that after giving testosterone to
men then asking them to play a frustrating computer
game, aggressive responses where significantly
increased. However these effects where not the same
in all participants and the changes where mainly
psychological. For example the participants may
respond more aggressively as they think this is how the
researcher wants them to respond.…read more

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