Psychology Aggression: Explanations for Institutional Aggression.

Explanations for institutional aggression (including: A01: Assumption of the theory and the 'bad barrel' hypothesis. A02: Evaluation of the theory. A03: Research that supports the theory and evaluation of research (Zimbardo)

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Explanations for institutional aggression
A01 ­ Describing theory (9 marks)
Assumption = Aggression in institutions occurs
as the result of situational factors, `the bad
barrel hypothesis'
It is the situation that individuals within an
institution are exposed to that will cause
aggression, rather than the individuals
themselves. ANYONE put into that situation
would be vulnerable to aggression.
Many situational factors can contribute to
institutional aggression, 3 of which are status
& power, revenge & retaliation and
deindividuation & helplessness.
STATUS AND POWER ­ those at the bottom
of the institution could act aggressively in
order to try and rise in rank (inferiority
complex). E.g. Soldiers in Abu Graib who
showed abuse to Iraqi prisoners were more
reservists on night shifts (low status and
power). Alternatively, it could be that those
who have high status and power are abusing
their position by acting aggressively.
REVENGE AND RETALIATION ­ aggression
is the result of taking revenge on
someone/group for a past hurt within an
institution. This is a situational factor. E.g.
American soldiers in Abu Graib may have been
taking revenge on the Iraqi prisoners for the
September 11th attacks.
DEINDIVDUATION AND HELPLESSNESS ­
Situations within institutions could lead to
people feeling deindividuated (loss of a sense
of individuality). This can lead to aggression
as people are out of touch with their own
responsibility within the institution. Factors
increasing deindividuation in institutions
include anonymity, diffusion of responsibility
and altered states of consciousness.

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A03 (4 marks) A theory is only as good as
the research which supports it....
Research & HOW it supports theory Evaluation of research & what this means for theory
Zimbardo's prison experiment supports the theory that >Stanford prison study was not a real life situation ­
situational factors are the cause of institutional aggression, prisoners and guards may have been acting
through deindividuation.…read more

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Implies that aggression is DETERMINED by environment (no FREE WILL) so we cannot
blame people and cannot punish people. So, justice system would not work.
LINK: so, theory not useful/valid in this respect as it does not allow for moral
responsibility, which clearly must exist in society.
> Situational explanations for institutional aggression are fairly parsimonious
(narrow/limited) as they ignore biological function (nature) and purely accounts for
environment (nurture). This is challenged by evidence for individualistic explanations e.g.…read more

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