Neural + Hormonal Explanations of Aggression

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  • Created by: EClou
  • Created on: 21-02-16 10:43

AO1 Neural + Hormonal


  • Human and Animal agg. linked to low Serotonin Levels and high Dopamine Levels
  • serotonin - inhibits responses to emotional stimuli
  • low levels linked to agg/impulsive beh/violent suicide
  • suggests if we artificially lower SN levels of non agg. person they become more agg and VV


  • testosterone - an androgen (hormone produced in testes) + low levels in ovaries
  • acts on areas of brain that control agg. - influences beh from teens . onwards doesn't account for it in kids
  • Cortisol  -stress hormone incr. anxiety + tf soc. withdrawal
  • mediates testosterone - high levels of C inhibit T and tf agg.
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AO2 - neural + hormonal


  • + Human - Mann et al (1990) 35 adult volunteers given dexfenfluramine - red. SN levels - used quest. to measure hostility levels and agg. - incr. in males but not females
  • - ethics - not leaving same way they came in/questionnaire - self-report DCs/men + SDB - feel shld be more agg/variables not controlled for - causality/sml sample - can't generalise
  • + Animals - Popova et al (1991) - silver foxes bred for selectively bred for docility + domestication for 30yrs > SN than wild members of same sp
  • - unethical to do to animals - no IC  - can't generalise to humans
  • + Lavine (1997) - incr. DP activity from amphetamines assoc. w/ incr. agg beh
  • - only ever correlations - no causality


  • real world - women < T and are < agg than men. but cld also be bc of soc gender roles
  • + Archer (1991) - meta-analysis 230 men, 5 studies low +ve Corr betw T and agg type of p/form of agg/measurement type differed betw studies -CORRELATIONS
  • Virkkunen (1985) - habitual violent offenders have low levels of Cort.
  • gender bias/small samples/contradictory ev/causality
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AO3 - Neural + Hormonal


  • Both BIOLOGICAL = REDUCTIONIST - ignores complexity of human beh. - ignores cognitive processes
  • DETERMINISTIC - suggests individual is not responsible for agg beh as its cause by biochemical abnormality this removes the locus of control from the individual - we can't blame them 
  • GENDER BIAS - most studies are only on men - especially with T - it is possible that agg may be expressed/triggered by different things in male and females i.e. neurotransmitters/hormones have diff effects
  • CULTURAL BIAS: - in some societies eg Amish agg is v rare - therefore these explanations don't account for these differences - do ppl in these more peaceful cultures have diff levels of SN and T or does this account for genetic predisposition for lower levels which are generated through inbreeding.
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