DESCRIBE and EVALUATE EXPLANATIONS of GROUP DISPLAY of AGGRESSION in HUMANS

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DESCRIBE AND EVALUATE EXPLANATIONS OF GROUP DISPLAY OF AGGRESSION IN HUMANS (24)
There are two main areas of group aggression; lynch mobs and sporting events. The first group
display of aggression in humans is lynch mobs. Lynching is known as a group of people who will kill for
an alleged offence without a legal trial, especially by hanging. Many of the victims were accused of
little more than 'insulting a white man' or 'seeking employment out of place'.
Evolutionary theory states that it was due to adaptive and survival reasons. It was to sustain the
dominant white community status over the black minority community. Any threat of reduction of the
white community's dominance would lower its adaptive fitness. As a result lynching served to
maintain this dominance and authority. A common factor in lynching was the fear of black men
impregnating white women - as this would increase the reproduction of the black community genes
into white communities.
Myrdal (1944) suggests this happened because of Social Transition theory and the need for
conformity. He suggests that the main cause of lynching in the US was 'fear of black people' which led
white mobs to turn to 'lynch law' (a solution) as a means of social control. This theory believes that the
abolishment of slavery in 1865 led to white communities feeling at risk to black integration. So in
order to increase chances of 'white' survival they have to deal with this 'social transition' and use
lynch laws to maintain the status quo.
To evaluate the social transition theory, Boyd supports this theory as they discovered that groups
who succeeded were those in which cooperation increased, providing evidence that group
conformity is essential for group survival. Therefore when a group is threatened by social change it is
more likely to act as a group rather than a collection of individuals.
However, Mullen contradicts this theory and suggests it is due to deindividuation. He suggests as a
lynch mob grows in size it leads to the breakdown of self-regulation (private/public self awareness)
and therefore increase aggression. As a result, this contradicts group aggression is ultimately for
survival.
Furthermore, there is contradictory evidence for the model leading to aggression, as a study in Sao
Paulo, Brazil showed that there was a negative correlation between the percentage of the Afro
Brazilian community to aggression and lynching. This shows that the lynch mobs (KKK) chose to be
aggressive and was not instinct behaviour as the evolutionary approach suggests.
A final weakness of the evolutionary approach to group aggression is that it does not consider non
evolutionary suggestions such as the emergent norm theory. This is where crowd aggression actions
occur spontaneously at any given time creating new behaviours and norms.
Another group display of aggression in humans is war dances. The Haka is an aggressive war dance
that the New Zealand Rugby team do before kick-off of each match. The Haka was performed by
warriors before a battle, proclaiming strength in order to intimidate the opposition. The purpose of
the intimidation is to create fear and win (survival). Similarly crowds can also have anthems such as
with Liverpool FC 'You will never walk alone'. Some teams even have cheerleaders or mascots such as
Dallas Cowboys team. All these forms are to create fear in the opposition, gain the crowds emotional
support and also to create a sense of social identity.

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To evaluate war dances as a form of group aggression, Marsh suggests that these rituals are
effective as if they stopped it would actually increase violence. He suggests that these chants are a
way to release tensions and aggressions in a cathartic way. However, Dunning contradicts this and
suggests the chants/rituals are not harmless but they actually create more violence which lead to
match deaths.…read more

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