Psychology AQA A PSYA3 Aggression

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Social Learning Theory

SLT (Bandura): learning through observation, vicarious reinforcement, mental representation, self efficacy

  • RS: Bandura's Bobo Doll Study,
  • Doesn't explain motivation to aggress e.g. frustration agression theory,
  • Supports Vicarious reinforcement,
  • Does it apply to adults? Phillips: homicide increased following televised boxing matches
  • Cultural: !Kung San not punished or rewarded for aggression and have no models
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Zimbardo: loss of anonymity e.g. by wearing a uniform, lose inhibitions about aggression, large groups and altered consciousness (drugs/alcohol) contribute.

RS: Zimbardo: those in deindividuated condition (uniform, anonymous, hidden faces) gave electric shocks for twice as long as identifiable condition (normal clothes, name tag, introduced to each other)

Does not always lead to anti-social behaviour, Johnson and Downing: people in nurse uniforms gave less shocks than control and people dressed as Ku Klux Klan.

Gender Biased: Cannavale found only males increased aggression when deindividuated.

Culture: Watson studied 23 tribes and found those who changed appearance were more destructive.

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Institutional Aggression

Zimbardo: people are aggressive because of social situation. 7 processes: Mindlessly taking the first step, dehumanisation of others, deindividuation, diffusion of personal responsibility, blind obedience to authority, uncritical conformity to group norms and passive tolerance of evil through inaction or indifference.

Mindlessly taking the first step (Gradual Commitment): agree to small requests and it is harder to say no to larger requests. RS: Milgrim electric shocks increased by 15V, all participants went over 300V. Most went to 450V

Deindiviuation: anonymity leads to reduced inhibition and less conscious of consequences. RS: Zimbardo study - deindividuated participants gave shocks for twice as long as identifiable participants.

Blind obedience to authority: people act aggressively in institutions because they are obeying people with higher status. RS: Hoffling - 21/22 nurses gave lethal drug because "doctor" told them to.

Alternative Explanation: Evolutionary - instinctive response as a result of losing status and resources and trying to gain them.

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Neural mechanisms

Low levels of serotonin = aggression High levels of dopamine = aggression

RS: Mann gave 35 participants dexfenfluramine which depletes serotonin and found increased hostility and aggression. Raleigh fed some vervet monkeys a diet high in tryptophan (increases serotonin) and others no tryptophan. Those who had high tryptophan were less aggressive.

Determinist: suggests that our actions are a product of our neurochemistry and not free will. This means that we should not be punished or imprisoned for acts of aggression.

Non human animals: monkeys may not have as complex cognitive processes as humans so cannot be compared

High testosterone = aggression Low cortisol = aggression

RS: Dabbs - violent criminals had higher testosterone levels than non-violent criminals. Archer analysed 230 males and found a low positive correlation between aggression and testosterone.

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Hormonal mechanisms

High testosterone = aggression Low cortisol = aggression

RS: Dabbs - violent criminals had higher testosterone levels than non-violent criminals. Archer analysed 230 males and found a low positive correlation between aggression and testosterone.

Gender biased: most studies only look at males but Baucom suggests that the association between aggression and testosterone is higher in women than in men, and that women with higher testosterone have higher occupational status.

Cause or effect? - is aggression caused by testosterone or is testosterone caused by aggression. Klinesmith took saliva samples then gave participants a gun or a toy to play with for 15 mins. Then took another saliva sample. Those who interacted with the gun had a greater increase in testosterone.

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Genetic Factors

Twin Studies: MZ- 100% genes, DZ- 50% genes

Coccaro found 50% of aggressive behaviour in adult twins due to genes.

However, not cause and effect because it's a correlation. May be due to upbringing.

Adoption studies: If + correlation between adopted child and biological parents then genes.

RS: Hutchings & Mednick - 14,000 adopted boys in Denmark, high correlation between criminals convictions in child and biological father.

Genes: MAOA is an enzyme which regulates serotonin. Brunner studied a Dutch family of males who had committed crimes such as **** and arson and found abnormally low levels of MAOA and a defect in the gene which produces it.

Gender Biased: both studies only looked at males, can't be generalised, beta bias.

Determinist: suggests that if parents are aggressive, children will be too.

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Evolutionary Explanations

Infidelity and jealousy: adaptive advantage to reduce risk of cuckoldry. Mate retention, vigilance, direct guarding, negative inducementsm uxorocide.

RS: Dobash & Dobash - The majority of battered women say that jealousy was the cause.

RS: Wilson & Daly - Women who agreed with statement "He is jealous and doesn't want to me to talk to other men" were twice as likely to have experienced violence. Of those 72% required medical attention.

However, questionnnaire so may be subject to social desirability bias, therefore may not be valid.

Determinist: suggests that men who are violent towards their wives should not be punished or imprisoned as it was an instinctive response. They have no control or free will about the way in which they treat their wives.

Gender Biased: Only looks at males being aggressive but a Parity report found that 40% of domestic abuse victims are male.

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Group Display as an Adaptive Response

Lynch Mobs: 19th century USA - 4742 people were lynched, 3/4 were black. Myrdal suggests it's because of fear of social change. It is an adaptive advantage as it maintains status and chance of survival as a result of protection.

RS: Boyd & Richerson - groups who cooperated were most likely to flourish. This suggests that when at risk of social change, people are more likely to act in the groups interests and may be aggressive to other groups to maintain their status and resources.

Religious Groups: initiation rituals which involve self harming e.g. Shiite Muslims whip themselves on the back. It is adaptive as it increases status within group and therefore increases protection and chance of survival.

RS: Sossis & Bressler - positive correlation between costly requirements such as aggression towards yourself and lifespan. This suggests that the mose committed members of a group who are prepared to self harm are more likely to survive because they are gaining status in the group which leads to protection and more chance of survival.

Determinist: states we have no control over our behaviour during times of social change and that aggressive behaviour is because of evolution and not our free will. Therefore people should not be punished for aggression in social groups.

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