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Social Learning Theory

Bandura et al: bobo doll studies

1) imitation via direct observation - 70% in non-aggressive/control groups had 0 ratings of aggression - aggressive cond. showed great deal of physical & verbal aggression

2) imitation via film - model reward/no consequence cond. = significantly more imitative than model punished cond. - when offered personal reward ALL 3 groups performed behaviours

Hicks: found 40% of acts displayed by models could be reproduced 8 months later

+ Real world applications: aggressive films - high ecological validity

- Bobo doll fit for purpose: operationalisation of aggression

- Role model used: children more likely to observe peers acting aggressively towards toys

- Generalisability: can we conclude adults act in the same way?

- Environmental determinism

- Reductionist

Operant conditioning- leaning through direct reinforcement     /     Vicarious reinforcement- leaning through consequences of aggressive beahviour by watching others being reinfoced or punished

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Le Bon - an individual is transformed when in a group, it occurs when theres low self evaluation adn decreaed concern about evaluation from others so they go against social norms

Zimbardo - argues deindividuated behaviour is a primitive urge to act outside social norms due to the fact annomymity occurs -> prison study - guards deindividuated with uniform & sunglasses - became very aggressive

Milgram-like shocks - pps who were unidentifiable shocked more readily

Rhem et al- handball study - children in uniform acted more aggressively

Spiveyet al- can lead to prosocial or antisocial behaviour depending on situational factors

Watson- cross cultural variation - societies who changed appearance in war = more likely to kill, torture & mutilate victims

Cannavale et al- male and female groups respond differently under deindivuation conditions = gender bias

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Institutional Aggression

Aggression within groups: Prisons

The importation model

Interpersonal factors

  • Irwin and Cressey (1962) claim prisoners bring their own social histories and traits with them into prison
  • this influeences their adaptation to the prison environment
  • Irwin and Cressey argue that prisoners are not 'blank slates' when they enter prison
  • many of the normative systems developed on the outside would be 'imported' into the prison

Gang membership

  • Within prison environments, gang membership is consistently related to violence and other forms of antisocial behaviour 
  • Several studies have found that gang members disproportionately engage in acts of prison violence
  • pre-preison gang membership appears to be an important determinant of prison misconduct
  • members of street gangs offend at higher levels than their non-gang counterparts
  • Huff (1998) found gang members in US were 10x more likely to commit murder and 3x more likely to assault someone in public than non-gang members of similar age/background
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Institutional Aggression

The Deprivation ModelThe experience of imprisonment itself causes extreme stress and frustration which leads toaggression (paterline and peterson) . Harer and Steffensmeier (1996) stated that violence is caused by “problems of adjustment posed by deprivations or pains of imprisonment”.  As prisoners suffer these pains they react to it by engaging in interpersonal violence.  

Zimbaro’s prison study - prisoners experiencing deprivation of identities/freedom etc. This led to increased aggression in the form of a prison riot 

McCorkle et al- claim that stress levels associated with imprisonment are generally constant whereas serious outbreaks of violence are not and that serious violence is more a consequence of the management of prisons rather than the general deprivation that prisoners endure, this is a weakness of the model because if deprivation were constant we would expect violence to be constant also

McCorkle et al-studies 371 US state prisons and found little evidence to support the connection between violence and overcrowding/living conditions

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Serotonin- Thought to inhibit aggressive responses - low levels associated with increased susceptibility to impulsive behaviour, aggression & violent suicide

Mann et al 1990 -35 pps drugs which reduced serotonin increased meaures of hostility & aggression in males (hostile aggression - what about other types?)

Bond-  anti-depressants reduce aggression (work by increasing serotonin levels)

Lenard-  serotonin not only linked with aggression

Dopamine -Link less well established 

Lavine: amphetamines increase aggression, Buitelaar: anti-psychotics reduce aggression

Couppis & Kennedy:mouse study-  dopamine reinforces aggression through reward pathways - not cause!

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Hormonal mechanisms

Testosterone thought to act on areas of the brain which control aggression from young adulthood & also thought to be primary biochemical influence on aggression

Lindman et al: aggressive behaviour in drunk males positively correlated with testosterone levels

Wagner et al: castrated male mice = decreased aggression (increased when given testosterone again)

Wingfield et al: testosterone levels rise in monogamous species in response to social challenges

Archer & Book et al: didn't find same link in meta-analyses

Gender bias: Archer et al - high testosterone in women = high occupational status (aggressive?!)

Cortisol mediates other hormones (high levels inhibit testosterone)

Virkuunen: low levels of cortisol in habitual violent offenders

Tennes & Kreye: found same link in schoolchildren

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Twin studies mostly focused on criminal behaviour

Coccaro: aggressive behaviour in adult twin pairs - 50% variance in direct aggression attributed to genetics

Adoption studies

Hutchings & Mednick: over 14,000 adoptions & criminal convictions - sig. no. of boys w/ convictions had biological parents with criminal convictions 

MAOA gene responsible for producing monoamine oxidase - regulates metabolism of serotonin

Brunner et al: Dutch family case study - many male members involved in serious crimes of violence has abnormally low levels (defect later identified)

Genes & environment interaction 

Caspi et al: males with variant associated with low levels of MAOA = sig. more likely to exhibit anti-social behaviour if maltreated

Brennan: genetic influences significant in property crime - biological & adoptive parents important

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Davy & Wilson: claim men, in particular, have evolved a no. of mate-retention strategies that deter mates from leaving or committing adultery

Retaining a mate = important due to chance of passing on genes - mate-retention strategies enhance reproductive fitness

Cuckoldry: women deceives partner into investing in offspring conceived with another man - cuckolded men lose both invested resources & reproductive opportunity (Shackelford)

Shackelford et al: 2 independent studies of men & women in committed, heterosexual relationships

  • found males use of 2 broad mate-retention strategies (intersexual negative inducements & 'direct guarding') to be correlated with violence
  • men who consistently used emotional manipulation were also more prone to using violence

+ Real world applications - could help friends & family recognise signs of violent realtionships

- Gender bias: can this explain female aggression/violence?

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Group display

Sports- Xenophobia: 

Wilson (1975) claims that xenophobia has been documented in 'virtually every group of animals displaying higher forms of social organisation'

Shaw and Wong (1989) argue that the mechanisms that prompt suspicion towards strangers would have been favoured by natural selection

Xenophobic displays on the terraces

Podaliri and Balestri (1998) have found evidence of xenophobic tendencies in their analysis of group displays of Italian football crowds

Territoriality-Territorial behaviour is common in many animal species, typically show threat displays toward outsiders and atack with greater vigour when defending a home territoryTestosterone and territorial behaviour

Testosterone- Animals display more aggression when they have higher testosterone levels

Neave and Wolfson (2003) found that football teams playing at home were more likely to win than the away team partly because players have the benefit of a huge surge in testosterone before the match this could be due to an evolved drive to defend home territory, which led to more aggressive displays when playing at home

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Group Display

Freud: the mind-set of an individual in a crowd differs - merging of minds reduces normal inhibitions

Contagion Theory: Le Bon - atmosphere of group causes contagion - group memebers are suggestible which, combined with anonymity = irrational, emotional or 'mob' behaviour

Deindividuation: losing sense of idenityt from being in large group, also results in gaining social identity of group -> anonymity, diffusion of responsibility, group size most important factors

Emergent-Norm Theory: Turner & Killian - crowd behaviour is 'normless' - group looks to others & base behaviour on theirs (compliant & motivated by seeking approval) - crowds are a logically thinking mass of individuals: behaviour not irrational or predictable

Social Identity Theory: Reicher - group behaviour involves inter-group behaviour - people don't lose identity but assume shared identity that promotes belonging & purpose (in absence of direct confrontation, there is often a symbolic confrontation - e.g. riots in St.Pauls directed at symbols of government)

Lynch Mobs: Mydral - suggests fundamental cause is fear, Patterson: lynch mobs were more active during end of C19th due to major social transition - entire community at risk, Blalock: power-threat hypothesis - groups who pose threat to majority more likely to be discriminated

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