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Institutional Aggression can occur within groups or between groups and involves more
complex processes than interpersonal aggression. Most of the research of the models has
been done in prisons.
The importance model suggests prisoners bring their own histories and traits into the
prison, which influences their adaption into the prison environment. Irwin and Cressey argued
prisoners are not blank slates when they enter prison, and import their behaviour from
outside the prison.
The Deprivation model suggests that aggression in prisons or other institutions is a
product of stressful and oppressive conditions of the institution itself. These include
crowding which may increase fear and frustration.
Hazing is another model of Institutional Aggression. It is a form of institutional bullying
based on traditions which involves the discipline of the junior members in groups. This can
spiral out of control and cause physical and psychological damage. Hazing occurs because
social psychological research has suggested that social context has powerful influences of
people's willingness to inflict harm.
Other research has looked into Genocide between groups. The institution is referred to as a
section of society defined by ethnicity, religion or other significant features. Violence then
occurs when the group is hated by another for example the Nazis and the Jews. Staub
defined 5 stages in the process of genocide to explain how difficult social conditions can
escalate rapidly into victimisation of the target group. First, difficult social conditions lead to
scapegoating a less powerful group leading the negative evaluation and dehumanisation of
the target groups, therefore moral values and rules become inapplicable, which starts the
killing. The last stage enhances the process by the passivity of bystanders.
There is support provided for the importance model from research studies.
DeLisi et al. found a positive correlation between gang members and aggression within
prison, suggesting that aggression factors from entering prison influence aggression within
prison. However, correlational studies were used to gather the results, which is a
quick, easy and precise method in order to be able to gain information about the
degree of a relationship between co-varibles. However, the relationship may not be casual as
there may be intervening variables, such as socioeconomic, status or ethnicity; therefore it
is difficult to draw up accurate conclusions. There is further support for this explanation
concerning the deprivation model, as there is evidence to support the claim that peer
violence is used to relieve deprivation imposed by institutional cultures. McCorkle found
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However this may only apply to some forms of aggression, as these factors did not
influence the likelihood of major collective acts of aggression. This means that the findings
lacks reliability, as the research in this area is not consistent within its findings.
Therefore the deprivation model can be criticised as Nijman et al. found that
increased personal space in psychiatric institutions failed to decrease the amount of violence
among patients.…read more