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Genetic Explanations for aggression
A01 Describing theory (9 marks)
Assumption = That aggression is the result of
biological causes. Specifically, people may have
inherited aggression through their genes. This may
be that they have inherited faulty hormonal or
neural systems genetically.
Sandberg (1961) Some males have been
identified as XYY males (having an extra Y
CourtBrown (1967) analysis of 314
hospitalised XYY patients indicated
hospitalisation was more likely to be a result of
Cairns Bred aggressive mice showed
aggression in later life. Supports that aggression
has a genetic influence.
Theilgard tested three types of men (XY, XXY
and XYY) using thematic apperception testing
this is where they are shown ink blot pictures and
told to say what they can see. Found that those
with XYY were significantly more likely to give
Nelson animal studies have provided strong
support for the likelihood that aggression is
Rutter et al. (1990) carried out a metaanalysis of
twin studies on criminality and found that
Dizygotic Twins have concordance rates
between 13 & 22%, while Monozygotic Twins
have concordance rates between 26 & 51%.
One adoption study was carried out by
Hutchings and Mednick 1975 over 14,000
participants were studied and it was found that a
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This therefore lends a lot of weight
to the genetic explanation especially as the study
included so many participants giving it good
A03 (4 marks) A theory is only as good as
the research which supports it....
Evaluation of research and what it means for theory Evaluation of research & what this means for theory
When using twin studies, it is difficult to separate genetic The adoption study carried out by Hutchings and Mednick
and environmental factors.…read more
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Implies that we can control aggression by controlling genes.
E.g. genetic engineering in order to breed people who are calmer/less aggressive.
LINK: so, theory useful to society as can reduce aggression biologically.
> Yet, implications not feasible/possible to carry out, e.g. moral/social problems with
engaging in genetic engineering techniques and `playing God'.
> Implies that aggression is DETERMINED by biological factors (no FREE WILL) so we
cannot blame people and cannot punish people. So, justice system would not work.…read more