PSYA3 Psychology Aggression- Biological Explanations

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Biological Explanations of Aggression
Neurotransmitters
Low levels of serotonin. Lower your levels of serotonin the more susceptible you are to aggressive
behaviour and the less calm/controlled you will be.
"Mann" dexfenfluramine is a substance that he injected into his healthy participants to deplete the levels
of serotonin. He then gave then a questionnaire to assess hostility levels. Found they scored highly on a
hostility rate. Didn't seem to happen in women which is a partial explanation.
Research Support: "Raleigh" used monkeys. Fed some monkeys on a high diet of trytophan
which increases levels on serotonin in the brain. Therefore aggression levels decreased.
High levels of Dopamine. Not as well established a Serotonin. "Lavine" suggested that there is an
association between people on amphetamines and an increase in aggression. Dopamine puts you into a
high state if physical arousal.
Research Support: "Buitelaar" violent juvenile delinquents. If you give them anti psychotics to
reduce dopamine anti social behaviour is reduced
Hormones
Male sex hormone testosterone (high levels) Acts on certain areas of the brain which control aggressive
behaviours.
"Dabbs" took saliva samples from both violent and non violent criminals. Non violent had lover levels of
testosterone.
Lower levels or cortisol said to make you more aggressive.
"Virkkunen" found that lower levels of cortisol are present in those who have commited a crime
Research Support: "McBurnett" a 4 year study on boys behaviour. Those with low levels of
cortisol showed aggression from a younger age and were 3 times more likely to show
aggressive behaviour.
Evaluation:
Testing prisoners so not a representative sample
Aggression or dominance?
High scientific credibility which gives it status
Social Psychologists would say that aggression is learnt rather than down to biology.
Gender Bias, testosterone
"Baucom" as you progress up occupational status testosterone levels increase.
Cant explain discrepancy between the way males and females display aggression
Chicken and egg problem. Which came first
Individual differences. We don't all act the same way
Cultural Bias Kung!San
Deterministic takes away free will therefore excuses aggressive behaviour (Ethics)
Reductionistic, fails to address other factors such as genetics and childhood experiences.
Diathesis Stress Model. BOTH psychological and biological.

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