Sports Psychology- Agression

  • Created by: AliceTori
  • Created on: 08-05-17 13:38

Hostile Aggression

The deliberate intention to cause harm.

It is outside the rules of the game which means that you can be punished within your sport by officials.

Often an emotional response to something which means that you have lost control of your emotions (loss of your rational control).

An example of this would be punching or kicking.

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Instrumental Aggression

The intention to cause harm but as a meaning ot another goal.

This type of agression is within the rules of the sport so no punishment is incurred.

There is NO emotional link in this type of aggression.

An example of this is boxing.

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Assertive Behaviour

There is no intent to cause harm or injury to an individual.

It is often goal directed.

Assertive behaviour is within the rules of the game.

It only uses legitimate force but a result of this may be injury if it is poorly executed.

An example of this is a rugby tackle.

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Channelled Aggression

Feelings of aggression that are diverted into useful and positive actions.

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Causes of Aggression

  • Nature of the sport
  • Rivalry between teams or players (derby match)
  • High arousal levels
  • Importance of the event, expectation from peers, coaches, crowd etc.
  • Nature and prximity of the crowd
  • Venue- home or away?
  • Frustration of own performance
  • Score line
  • Poor officiating
  • Copyiong of role models
  • Extrinsic rewards
  • Dehumanisation (hockey goal keepers for example as you cannot see their face due to their kit they become less human in your eyes)
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Instinct Theory (Trait Theory)

Based on the nature approach/trait theory

States that agression is innate and is therefore inevitable.

States that sport helps to release the energy within us by the process of catharsis (bringing about change) in a positive, productive way rather than in a negative and destructive way.

Also states that agression is stable and enduring.


  • Aggression is often not spontaneous.
  • Evidence to shows it is often learnt and linked to culture.
  • Levels of agression tend to increase not decrease in sport.
  • Aggressive sports people are not always aggressive out of sport.
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Social Learning Theory

Bandura's nurture approach

Learnt through copying others and reinforcement of outcomes.

Learnt through vicarious situations.

Often reinforced in the media via role models and supported by coaches/teachers/parents etc.


  • How do people become aggressive if they do not observe aggressive acts?
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Interactionist Theory

Frustration- Aggression Hypothesis:

Drive to goal --> Obstacle to goal --> Frustration --> Aggression -->Success --> Catharsis
need to win

catharsis- bringing about change in a positive way


  • not all frustration leads to aggression
  • not all aggression is caused by frustration, it can be learned
  • it ignores situational factors
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