Environmental Stressors and Aggression
The environment may have significant effects on human behaviour. Heat, noise and crowding may result in heightened physiological and psychological arousal; which in turn could lead to aggressive behaviour.
Temperature and Aggression
Carlsmith and Anderson: Analysed disturbances in 79 US cities between 1967 and 1971. They found a significant relationship with the hotter the weather the greater the likelihood of a riot. Anderson also suggested a relationship between temperature and violent crime. In cities across the US the hotter it is the higher the level of violent crime.
Kenrick and MacFarlane:Conducted a field experiment in Phoenix, Arizona. A confederate pretended to stall her car when the traffic lights turned green, so blocking motorists behind her. The hotter the temperature the more likely other motorists would honk their horns and shout.
Negative Affect Escape Model
This is as temperature rises people experience a negative effect (become uncomfortable, irritable). This predisposes them to aggressive behaviour, which could be triggered by a frustrating experience. However as the temperature continues to rise to extreme levels this leads to a further rise in the negative effect, but a decrease in aggression. People are too uncomfortable / exhausted to react they just want to escape.
Crowding and Aggression
Crowding is the unpleasant sensation that too many people are sharing the same space. Crowding is a subjective, psychological state, if our expectations on the use of space are violated by the presence of others; the feeling of crowding is induced. Individuals subjective to high density often respond by withdrawing from the social interaction and avoid social contact (i.e. when in a crowded lift).
Supporting evidence for Crowding and Aggression
· Matthews argues that a relationship exists between crowding and aggression. When crowding starts to swell, people become uncomfortable and irritated and disposed to aggression, but once a certain density is reached people become too uncomfortable to react aggressively.
· Loo looked at the relationship between crowding and aggression by exploring the effects on children’s play. As the number of children in the nursery increased, the overall level of aggression increased.
· Stokols et al found that increased density for males led to increased feelings of aggression, but the opposite occurred for females.
Evaluation of Crowding and Aggression
- Sample sizes that were used were quite small
- Studies conducted in labs; difficult to generalise.
- The experiments do not resemble real life situations and lack mundane realism.
- Individual differences will occur; some people won’t necessarily become aggressive in extreme circumstances. Also peoples perception of what is a crowd will differ, i.e. some will suffer with claustrophobia
- Things need to be considered in context for example at a concert we expect there to be crowds.
- The negative affect escape model is said to be simplistic and reductionist, as situations may be more intense and complex in real life.