Institutional Aggression

Theories,IDA's, general eval

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  • Created by: shauna
  • Created on: 26-12-11 14:59

Situational factors (within institutions)

Within Institutions (Deprivation model)

  • Social context influences behaviour
  • 'Deprivation model' argues (oppressive) physical conditions of institution frustrate you, leading to aggression.
  • E.g Abu Graihb prisoners dehumanised (result of oppressive conditions?)

Mccorkle et al found overcrowding in prisons influenced peer violence. Conradicted by Nijman et al who found increased personal space failed to cause decline in violence amongst patients in psyciatric institution.

Findings suggest interactionist approach more suitable. Temperament and genes may be influential.

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Situational factors (Between groups)

Between Groups (Dehumanisation)

  • Staub(1999) 5 stages in genocide:

Difficult social conditions lead to scapegoating, leads to dehumanisation of target group. Morals out the window, killing begins, Passive bystanders enhance process.

 Dehumanisation alters humans moral about killing other humans. If dehumanised they're viewed as worthless animals unworthy of moral consideration.

Holocaust prime example of how dehumanisation can lead to genocide.

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Dispositional factors (importation model and perso

Importation model

  • Individuals bring own social histories and traits into environment. What occurs outside is brought into institution.

Support from Harer and Steffensmeir (2006) black inmates higher violent behaviour, lower rates of drug and alcohol related misconduct than white counterparts.

Supports stereotypical views. More inclined to certain behaviours due to race. Could reinforce negative stereotypes care taken when published


  • personality may cause aggression (especially)against refugees or asylum seekers. High SDO's tend to dehumanise outer groups. Media depictions of refugees being socially deviant , legitimise myths so SDO's think they deserve hostility, feeling they're less human than others.
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(I) Social learning Approach

(j) Aggression pre-determined by past expereinces.

(A) Practical applications E.g in Terrorism, military forces. Help reduce institutional aggression. Oppressive conditions said to influence aggression

(I) Accounts for individual differences.

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(j)  Aggression is sensitive topic. Ethical concerns, including reinforcing stereotypes. Classing certain individuals as more prone to certain types of violent misconduct due to race.

(I/A) Take care how research is published. Be aware how results can impact society and minorities. Confidentiality key

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(I) Oversimplistic

(J) Aggression result of difficult social conditions 

(I/A) Fails to explain cases where social psychological explanations cannot account for aggression (e.g psychopaths who were still violent even when given space.) Human behaviour is complex.

Also, violent individuals may blame aggression on oppressive times (e.g recession), therefore escape the blame.

(I) Determinist

(J) Aggression pre-determined by conditions of institution/ personality

(I/A) Fails to explain people in similar conditions who do not act similarly.(e.g during slavery, many whites helped slaves escape or sheltered them.) Shows there is element of free-will.

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Study ( Zimbardo)

  • Mock prison study of randomly allocated students adapt to prisoner or guard roles. Reports showed no significant differences between prisoner or guards personalities , therefore shift in behaviour attributed to social context. Supports situational factors influencing aggression.

Lacks ecological validity: role-play, Yet symptoms of stress so severe expermiment stopped. Suggests Pp's internalised roles.

Unethical: No informed consent

Self selected: Unrepresentative, cannot be generalised to population.

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