Individual Differences: Agression


Definitions of Aggression

  • Aggression: Intent to harm OUTSIDE the rules of the sport event.
  • The term aggression is used widely in sport but it is important to distinguish between aggression that is desirable and that which is unacceptable.
  • Baron (1977) defined aggression as: Aggression is any form of behaviour directed towards the goal of harming/injuring another living being who is motivated to avoid such treatment.
  • Most definitions agree that it is: The intent to harm which makes an action aggressive.
  • In sport it is often difficult to distinguish between what is aggressive behaviour and what isn't.
  • Aggressive behaviour that is controlled within the laws of the game is seen as ASSERTION rather than aggression.
  • Assertion: Forceful behaviour within the laws of the game.
  • A player who is aggressive may:
    • underacheive
    • injure themselves 
    • be removed from the game
  • VIOLENCE is an EXTREME form of aggression.
  • However, in some sports, aggression is part of the game and it is known as assertion. For example: 
    • In boxing you can punch above the waist. 
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Aggression and Assertion

    • Prime motive is to harm
    • Inflict injury
    • Violate rules of game
    • Reckless actions are dysfunctional in sport
    • Often an aggressive player will disrupt the teams performance 
    • Aggression needs to be eliminated from sport
    • Channelled aggression 
    • Assertive behaviour doesn't attempt to harm and in within the rules of the game
    • Assertion involves forceful play, focussed uopn completing skills successfully
    • Major aim is completion of task
    • e.g. to drive forcefully through a group of players to score in basketball
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Possible causes of Aggression

    • Genetic causes
    • We can't help our behaviour because it is natural
    • e.g. we lash out at an opponent in rugby when we fell threatened
    • because of blocked goals
    • because of high arousal
    • because of need for catharsis 
    • because of umpires poor decisions
    • because of losing the game
    • e.g. the poor umpires decisions causes a player to hit out an opponent in rugby
    • copying others who are role models/significant others via SLT
    • e.g. watching a premier league footballer and copying violent behaviour
    • wanting to be accepted by a group
    • certain groups display a 'normal' behaviour of the culture
    • e.g. to be accepted in your hockey team, you must show aggressive behaviour
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Possible causes of Aggression

    • nature of the game
    • expected norms within the game
    • e.g. expected to be violent in ice hockey
  • CUES:
    • triggers/cues/stimuli from the environment that cause an aggressive response
    • e.g. chanting by the opponents supporters in a tennis match may cause aggressive behaviour 
    • getting your own back
    • e.g. you are elbowed in football, so next time you tackle that opponent, you want elbow him back
    • competitiveness
    • pressure to win
    • rewards
    • e.g. a crucial end of season hockey game may cause high emotions and therefore aggression
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Possible causes of Aggression

    • obeying orders 
    • meeting others expectations
    • e.g. the coach of a rugby team orders his forwards to intimidate through being violent
    • may affect the body/brain 
    • inhibitions are lowered
    • sense of righ/wromg is confused
    • e.g an athlete might take steroids but can't help but be aggresisve towards officials
    • pressure experienced from outside of the game
    • life/personal problems
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Eliminating aggressive tendencies in sport

  • Methods of eliminating aggression
  • 1. Control arousal level of performer
    • Stress management techniques e.g. relaxation
    • Focussing attention on what you need to (chanelling aggression)
  • 2. Avoid situations that initiate aggressive responses 
    • Change sport
    • Change position
  • 3. Remove aggressive player from situation
    • Basketball sub off a player so that they can calm down
  • 4. Reinforce non-aggressive acts
    • If a player is successful by being assertive rather than aggressive, then reward them
  • 5. Show non-aggressive role models
    • Highlight successful performers who aren't aggressive
  • 6. Punish an aggressive participant
    • Fine system
    • Drop player off team
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Eliminating aggressive tendencies in sport

  • 7. Increase peer pressure to be non-aggressive
    • If significant others are seen as not to reinforce aggressive acts, then they won't occur
  • 8. Give or highlight the player's position of responsibility
    • Aggression could let the team down
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