Aggression Key Studies


Social Learning Theory

Bobo Doll Study:

Bandura et al (1961)

  • Children observed aggressive and non-aggressive models 
  • Tested for imitative learning in the absence of the model
  • 1/3 of the children in the aggressive condition repeated model's verbl reponses 
  • None of the childen in the non-aggressive condition made such remarks 
  • Boys imitated more physical aggression than girls
  • Did not differ between their imitation of verbal aggression 

Phillips (1986)

  • Daily homocide rates in the US almost always increased in the week following a major boxing match, suggests that viewers were imitating behaviour they watched 
  • Social learning is evident in adults as well as children 
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Social Learning Theory

Wolfgang and Ferracuti (1967)

  • Culture of Violence theory 
  • Large societies = some subcultures develop norms that sanction violence to a greater degree than the dominant culture
  • Some cultures may emphasise and model non-aggressive behaviour, producing individuals that show low levels of aggression 
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Zimbardo (1969)

  • Four female undergraduates
  • Required to deliver electric shocks to another student to 'aid learning'
  • Half wore bulky lab coats and hoods to hide their face, sat separately and not referred to by name
  • Other = wore normal clothes, were given large name tags and introduced by name, also able to see each other when at the shock machines
  • Both groups told they could see the person being shocked
  • Deindividuated condition = shocked twice as long 

Johnson and Downing (1979)

  • Rather than deindividuation automatically increasing the incidence of aggression, any behaviour prduced could be a product of local group norms 
  • Used the same experimental conditions as Zimbardo 
  • However participants were made anonymous by means of mask and overalls, or by means of a nurses uniform 
  • Shocked more = KKK
  • People respond to normative cues associated with the social context 
  • KKK participants clearly felt that aggressive behaviour was more appropriate 
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Postmes and Spears (1998)

  • Disibhibition and antisocial behaviour are not more common in large groups and anonymous settings 
  • Little evidence that deindividuation is asociated with reduced self-awareness
  • Or that reduced self-awareness increases disinhibition of aggressive behaviour 
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Institutional Aggression (WITHIN)

Harer and Steffensmeier (2006)

  • Collected data from 58 US prisons
  • Black inmates had higher rates of violent behaviour but lower rates of alcohol and drug relate misconduct than white inmates
  • Parallel racial differences in these behaviours in US society 
  • Supports the importation model

McCorkle et al (1995)

  • Overcrowding, lack of privacy and the lack of meaningful activity 
  • All significantly influence peer violence

Nijiam et al (1999)

  • Research into psychiatric institutions 
  • Increased personal space failed to decrease the level of violent incidents among patients 
  • Research is not consistent 
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Institutional Aggression (BETWEEN)

O'Brien (2003)

  • Evidence for destructive consequences of dehumanisation can be seen in many conflicts
  • Dehumanisation may also explain violence against immigrants 
  • 'Polluting threats to the social order'

Mandel (1998)

  • Rejects Milgram's claims - monocausal 
  • Doesn't match historical record

Goldhagen (1996)

  • Main casual factor in these atrocities was a form of anti-Semitism so deeply entrenched in the German people that they implicitly condoned the elimination of millions of innocent Jews 
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Raleigh et al (1991)

  • Support for imprtance of serotonin in aggressive behaviour 
  • Study of vervet monkeys
  • Those fed on experimental diet high in tryptophan = decreased levels of aggression 
  • Difference in aggression could be attributed to their serotonin levels

Bond (2005)

  • Drugs that clinically rise serotonin levels should produce a concurrent lowering in aggression
  • This is what happens in antidepressant drug studies 
  • Elevate serotonin levels
  • Such drugs tend to reduce irritability and impulsive aggression 

Couppis and Kennedy (2008)

  • Mice
  • Reward pathway in the brain becomes engaged in response to an aggressive event
  • Dopamine is involved as a positive reinforcer in this pathway
  • Individuals will intentionally seek out an aggressive encounter solely because they experience a rewarding senstation from it 
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Hormonal Mechanisms

Albert et al (1993)

  • Other studies find no relationship between testosterone and aggression
  • Particuarly those who have compared testosterone levels of aggressive and less aggressive individuals
  • Most studies showing a positive correlation = small samples of men within prisons, using either self-report measures of aggression or judgements based solely on the severity of the crime committed 

Mazur (1985)

  • Distinguish between between aggression and dominance
  • Aggression = intent to inflict injury 
  • Dominance = achieve or maintain status over another
  • Aggression = just one form of dominance behaviour 

McBurnett et al (2000)

  • Four year study of boys with behavioural problems
  • Supports effect of cortisol on aggressive behaviour 
  • Low cortisol = antisocial acts at a younger age and 3 times the number of aggressive symptoms 
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Infidelity and Jealousy

Buss and Shackelford (1977)

  • Men who suspected that their wives might be unfaithful over the next year
  • Exacted greater punishment for a known or suspected infidelity 
  • Compared to men who did not anticipate future infidelities 

Shackelford et al (2000)

  • Analysed half a million homocides, selecting 14,000 where the man killed his wife
  • Younger women had a greater risk regardless of the age of their partner
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Sport events and Xenophobia

Foldesi (1996)

  • Racist conduct of a core of extremist supporters led to an increase in spectator violence 
  • Xenophobic outburts in particular
  • Violent incidents based on racist or xenophobic attitudes were observed at all stadia, with gypsies, Jews and Russians the usual targets 

Marsh (1987)

  • Alternative explanation of the aggressive displays of football crowds
  • Much of what passes for violent behaviour is actually highly ordered and ritualised
  • Being a football hooligan enables young males to achieve a snese of personal worth and identity in the eyes of their peers 
  • Group displays are not an indication of underlying xenophobic tendencies, but part of an 'alternative career structure' for working class males 
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