Psychology (Aggression) AQA GCSE

A set of revision cards for psychology aggression topic.

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aggression is antisocial behaviour, generally this is considered to be behaviour that harms or intends to harm.

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Biological explanation of aggression

This approach believes that aggression is innate. They also believe that the 3 main factors which affect aggression are the brain, hormones and chemicals.

The limbic system is linked to aggression. For example damage to the limbic system in some animals has indicated a definite rise in the levels of aggression and a lack of fear. However damage to the amygdala can cause timidity.

Higher levels of testosterone has shown to be linked with aggression. serotonin has also been shown to linked aggression because serotonin dampens the RAS or reticular activating system. Serotonin dampens the effects of the RAS and this stops people being aggressive low levels of serotonin have been linked to aggression.

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Psychosurgery is where we purposefully damage parts of the brain. Aggression has been shown to be reduced when we do damage to the amygdala.

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Chromosomal abnormalities

This is where we suffer damage to our chromosomes at birth and this can cause problems later in life. Some scientists usedf to believe that this could be related to increased aggression in certain individuals. XYY syndrome for example is where people are born with an extra Y chromosome and this can lead to skeletal problems and acne in teenage life. This used to be believed to be linked to aggression but bullying in teens because of this is more likely to lead to aggression so the link is not evident.

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The Frustration aggression hypothesis

This theory is based around the fact that we become frustrated and then to rid ourselves of this frustration we become aggressive and take it out somehow. We might not show this aggressive behaviour for several reasons for example.

  • They may believe behaving aggressively is wrong.
  • They may have learnt how to not show aggression
  • They believe that their frustration was no caused intentionally.
  • They may be frightened of the other person.
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Berkowitz (1968)

A: To investigate whether people relate stimuli to anger.

P: PP's were given an opportunity to deliver mild shocks to a confederate, before they were to give the shocks to the confederate they saw an object this object was either a shotgun or a badminton racket, the control group saw no objects.;

F: The group who saw the gun delivered more shocks than any other group.

C: People do relate certain stimuli with anger or ways of releasing anger.

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Social learning theory explanation of aggression

This explanation of aggression states that we observe models who are more aggressive and so appear more powerful, we then imitate them and this behaviour is reinforced.

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Bandura et al. (1961)

A: To test the social learning theory of aggression.

P: In BAndura's basic procedure children aged between 3 and 5 saw an adult beahve aggressively towards a large inflatable doll called a Bobo doll. The children then had the oppurtunity to play with a large variety of toys including the bobo doll. Their behaviour was recorded.

F: Boys performed far more aggressive acts than girls and they were far more likely to imitate same sex models.

                       Female Model                       Male Model

Male PP                  17                                         38

Female PP              19                                           9

These are the aggressive acts after seeing a video with a model of either the same sex model or a different model. Children were far more likely to imitate same sex models.

C: Children had learnt the behaviour but are far more likely to imitate same sex models.

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Patterson et al. (1967)

A: To investigate the effects of negative reinforcement on aggressive behaviour.

P: Children were watched in an observational study. 

F: When children were aggressive the experience, was most likely a rewarding one for the most aggressive child. Though when this aggression was negatively reinforced for example the other child fought back, the other child became less aggressive.

C: When aggressive behaviour is negatively reinforced it is less likely to recur.

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Reducing biological aggression

In order to reduce aggression biologically you can..

  • Take drugs to lower hormone levels
  • do psychosurgery on certain areas of the brain.
  • Castrate 'em
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Psychodynamic approach to reducing aggression

In order to reduce aggression psychodynamically you can..

  • Watching sports is supposedly cathartic
  • Directing aggression at objects i.e walls
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Baron (1977)

A: To test whether certain factors could reduce aggression.

P: A car driven by a confederate broke down at lights. When the man was fixing the car a woman crossed the street dressed..

  • as a clown
  • with crutches
  • in a revealing dress
  • normally or no woman

The responses and aggression of drivers behind was recorded.

F: Results showed that the first three conditions produced less aggression than when no woman crossed or she was dressed normally.

C: Baron suggested this is because the drivers are experiencing empathy, humour or sexual arousal. These feelings are supposedly incompatible with anger.

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Social learning method of reducing aggression

In order to reduce aggression socially you can..

  • If we punish models exhibiting aggressive behaviour it can be reduced.
  • Or seeing non-aggressive models can reduce aggression.
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