Institutional Aggression

Institutional aggression, AO1 and AO2

HideShow resource information

AO1 - Prison Aggression

Importation Model

  • Irwin and Cressey: claim that prisoners bring their own social traits with them into the prison, and this influences their adaptation to the prison environment
  • Prisoners are not blank slates when they enter prison
  • Many of the normative systems developed on the outside would be 'imported' into the prison


Deprivation Model

  • Paterline and Peterson: prisoner aggression is the product of the stressful and oppressive conditions of the institution itself
  • These include crowding (assumed to increase fear and frustration levels) and staff experience
  • Davies and Burgess: more experienced officers were less likely to suffer an assault
1 of 9

AO1 - Genocide 1

Staub's 5 stages of genocide

1.   Difficult social conditions
2.   Scapegoating of a less powerful group
3.   Negative evaluation and dehumanisation of that group
4.   Moral rules and values becoming inapplicable, and the killing beginning
5.   The passivity of bystanders (can enhance the process)


  • The moral inhibitions that humans have towards killing other humans disappears if the target group are dehumanised to the point of being viewed as worthless animals
  • In the Nazi Holocaust, intensive propaganda made Jewish people out to be akin to rats
  • In the Rwandan genocide, the influential Hutu-controlled 'hate radio' station RTLM enouraged Hutu listeners to murder their Tutsi neighbours, calling them 'cockroaches'
2 of 9

AO1 - Genocide 2

Obedience to authority

  • Milgram: the Holocaust was primarily the result of situational pressures that forced Nazi soldiers to obey their leaders, regardless of any moral repugnance
  • If so many participants in his own study could administer painful electric shocks to a victim simply because they were told to...
  • ...the Nazis must have followed the same principle
3 of 9

AO2 - Importation Model

  • Harer and Steffensmeier: collected data from 58 US prisons
  • Found that there were greater rates of violence among black inmates, and greater rates of drug- and alcohol-related misconduct among white inmates
  • These patterns parallelled racial differences in US society in general
  • Therefore this shows that these patterns were imported into the prison from outside
4 of 9

AO2 - Deprivation Model

  • McCorckle et al: found that overcrowding, lack of privacy and lack of meaningful activity all significantly increase peer violence
  • HOWEVER, research in this area is inconsistent
  • Nijman et al: found that, in psychiatric institutions, increased personal space failed to decrease the level of violent incidents among patients
5 of 9

AO2 - Genocide: The Importance of Bystanders

  • Bystander intervention does not necessarily end institutional aggression
  • There is an important difference between the effect of intervention on duration and severity of violence
  • Although intervention by outside agencies like the UN can shorten an international or civil conflict it might also hasten perpetrators to step up their genocidal policy in that time
  • In the Rwandan genocide, 800,000 people died in 100 days
6 of 9

AO2 - Dehumanisation

  • Evidence of the destructive consequences of this can be seen in many genocides
  • O'Brien: dehumanisation may also explain violence against immigrants, seen by some as 'polluting threats to the social order'
7 of 9

AO2 - Obedience to Authority

  • Mandel: rejects Milgram's claims that obedience to authority was sufficient to explain the behaviour of Holocaust perpetrators
  • Argues that this is monocausal and simply does not match the historical record
  • Goldhagen: suggests the main causal factor in the atrocities was a form of anti-Semitism so deeply entrenched in the German people that they implicitly condoned them
8 of 9

IDA - Real-World Applications

  • Personality may play an important role in violence against foreign refugees
  • Social dominance orientation (SDO) is a personality variable which predicts social and political attitudes
  • People who are high in SDO endorse social hierarchies and inter-group inequality, and see the world as a 'competitive jungle'
  • Esses et al: individuals high in SDO have a tendency to to dehumanise outgroup members, especially foreign refugees and asylum seekers
  • Media depictions of refugees portrayed as violating immigration procedures and trying to cheat the system cause the greatest contempt in high-SDO individuals
  • These negative attitudes become rationalised through 'legitimising myths' (e.g. that foreign refugees are by nature socially deviant)
  • This indicates to the high-SDO individuals that these groups deserve our hostility because they are somehow less human than others
9 of 9


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Aggression resources »