Psychology unit 3 - Institutional Aggression

my notes for unit 3 A2 Psychology! (institutional aggression)

Importation and Deprivation!

hope they help!

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  • Created by: Stacey
  • Created on: 15-06-11 16:53

Institutional Aggression

Institutional Aggression...

involves the behaviour of those people serving in certain institutions (police force, security service & military) aswell as criminal or terriost groups

There are 2 models that explain Institutional Aggression; importation and deprivation!

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Importation Model! AO1

Importation Model...

...looks at the attitudes & values of the individual - it was purposed by Irwin and Cressey

Aggression found in prisons and other institutions is imported from the outside.

It's argued that aggressors are not 'blank slates' and so they bring there own social histories and personal traits with them.

So aggression occurs because the individual themselves import the violence from their own backgrounds & communities outside the institution.

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Deprivation Model! AO1

Deprivation Model...

...was purposed by Harer et al.

they said that the institution itself is the reason for prison violence!

Although the model doesn't deny that the inmates bring a certain cultural norms with them (violence) - its believed that it is primarily the experience of imprisonment that causes the inmates great stress, which then leads to aggression.

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Skye's - conducted a study which looked at the 'deprivation' that prisoners suffered during incarnation. 

-> he argued that prison sub-culture originates from within the institution.

He describes 5 deprivation!

Liberty - prisioner isn't someone who is trusted to live on outside. They are rejected by society.

Goods & Service - they don't have 'stuff' that we do in the free world.

Security - they fear for their safety

Homosexual Relationships - being denied sexual relations with females, reduces some mens self worth

Autonomy - they have no power and very few choices.

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positive evaluation for IMPORTATION

(+ive) Keller & Wang -> found that prison violence is more likely to occur in facilities were the most troublesome inmates are held.

(eg they found that the prisons holding the max. security inmates had higher levels of assults on prison officers than those held in low security prisons.


(+ive) data from 58 US prisons were analysed and it was found that black inmates displayed a significant higher level of violent behaviour but lower rates of alcohol and drug use compared to white inmates. This shows the racial difference reflected in those behaviours within US society. -> providing support for the claim that such characteristics are imported into prisons.

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negative evaluation for IMPORTATION

(-ive) importation model pridicts that membership of a violent gang prior to confinement will increase levels of violence and misconduct in prison - as gang members import their gang involvement into prison settings!

-> however a study of 800 male inmates found evidence that gang membership had no bearing on violence within prison.

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Positive AND Negitive Evaluation DEPRIVATION

(+ive) it allows a consideration of ways in which to prevent/reduce institutional aggression eg via reduction of overcrowding etc, so it has real world practical value.

(+ive) examined 900 US prisons and found that some inmate programmes increased rates of aggression while others decreased them! This suggests that is it the characteristics of the prison itself that accounts for levels of aggression.


(-ive) McCorkle et al - points out that levels of stress associated within imprisonment (loss of freedom, over crowding etc) are CONSISTANT whereas serious violent outbreaks are not. They claim that serious outbreaks are more of a consequence of the management of the prison rather than the general deprivation that prisoners endure.

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