Environmental stressors/Aggression

Effects of environmental stressors on aggression

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  • Created by: Marie
  • Created on: 23-05-09 15:08


Explaining the relationship

A01: Indirect links (Routine activity theory)

People behave differently in summer (Change of routine: outside more, more alcohol consumed) and thus become more aggressive.

A02: However... although this 'indirect' explanation can explain naturalistic studies, it does not explain laboratory studies that show temperature as a causal factor.

A01: Direct links (negative affect escape)

Negative affect (mood) increases with temperature. At high heat levels, aggression occurs if escape is not possible.

A02: However... some studies show a curvilinear relationship between heat and aggression but others (e.g. ANDERSON and ANDERSON 1984) haven't found a decline in aggression at very high temperatures.

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Research studies of temperature as a stressor

A01: Heat and Frustration

(KENRICK and MACFARLANCE, 1986) Drivers responded more aggressively to frustration when heat levels were high.

A01: Heat and Violent crime

(ANDERSON, 1987) Archival records show violent crimes are more common in hotter years and hotter quarters of the year.

A02: Alternatively...

The relationship could be biological, as heat activates the ANS and causes increased testosterone, leading to aggression. Also explains why males are more aggressive.

A02: Limitations:

  • Naturalistic studies provide only correlational data
  • Other variations that may lead to aggression are uncontrolled.
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Stressor 2: NOISE

A01: Explaining the relationship:

Noise alone is not believed to cause aggression, but when combined with pre-existing anger, may trigger aggressive behaviour.

A02: This can be understood by... seeing noise as being like any other stressor. It increases ANS activity, and predisposes people to aggressive behaviour.

A01:Research studies:

  • Laboratory studies: GEEN and O'NEAL (1969) found that loud noise increases aggressiveness; DONNERSTEIN and WILSON (1976) found that levels of aggression decrease if people believe they have some control over noise.
  • Exposure to aircraft noise: EVANS et al. (1998) found that long-term exposure to aircraft noise caused increase in blood pressure and stress hormones in children.

A02: This can be explained by... the fact that aircraft noise may cause tiredness, which was what caused children to behave aggressively, rather than noise itself.

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Stressor 3: CROWDING

A01: Explaining the relationship

Crowding may create arousal (and hence aggression) because of insufficient personal space and diminished sense of control.

A02: A problem is that... the effects of crowding vary with social context (Deindividuation)

A02: However, this relationship disappears when other social factors are controlled (FREEDMAN, 1975)

Research studies

  • Crowding and violent crime: Some studies found a positive correlation between high population density and violent crime (SCHMITT, 1967)
  • Crowding and the dance floor: A study of nightclubs found that levels of crowding was related to the number of aggressive incidents (MACINTYRE and HORNEL, 1997)
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