Institutional aggression refers to a form of aggressive behaviour of people in institutions of groups. Aggressive behaviour can occur in within or between groups and can take many forms.These include distinct entities such as prisons and schools, large bodies such as the police and the military, and whole societies.
One explanation of institutional aggression is the individualistic causes (dispositional) which are the characteristics or personality of an individual that contribute to them showing aggressive behaviour. The second explanation is that situational factors that are present in social situations encourage aggression.
Importation model – Irwin and Cressey (1962) Inter-personal Factors- People who enter prison already have certain characteristics e.g. values + attitudes that predispose them to inter-personal violence - Institutional aggression is not a product of institution but characteristics of violent individuals who enter the institution
Deprivation model – Sykes (1958) Situational Factors- It’s the characteristics of the prison rather than inmates that account for violence in prisons. - Argued it is the experience of prison that causes stress and frustration for inmates that leads to violence against other inmates and members of prison staff
Supporting evidence - Kellar and wang - aggression more likely in high security prisons containing more violent inmates. This supports idea of interpersonal characteristics.
HOWEVER, higher security means higher stress for the inmates due to factors such as being in a cell for longer, and therefore situational factors may be the cause of aggression. ALSO, only inmate on inmate aggression was seen, and so this reduces internal validity and effectivenes because.........
Another contradiction is that the importation model would suggest that inmates who were members of violent gangs outside of prison wold import this, however Delisi et al found in a study of over 800 inmates that there is no evidence to support this.
Zimbardo prison experiment also contradicts importation model and supports situational factors- The participants used in the study were completely healthy and had no criminal record prior to the experiment, yet developed aggressive behaviour after a period of time suggesting situational factors
The disposition of people occupying an institution dictates the nature of an institution. The UA of situational causes is that the nature of the institution and how it treats people dictates levels of aggression and therefore an environmental approach.
Theory suggests that aggression is determined purely by the institution however individual’s have free will and can choose whether to be violent or not.