Aggression Ao1

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  • Created by: henrietta
  • Created on: 02-06-14 18:30

The social learning theory states that aggressive behaviour is learnt through observation and imitation. The social factors involved are observation, imitation, role models and vicarious reinforcement. We observe aggressive behaviour carried out by another individual (usually a role model) and when we see that they have been rewarded by this behaviour i.e. they have gained higher status within a group, we are vicariously reinforced and therefore wish to imitate this behaviour to achieve the same results. The four cognitive components are, attention, retention, reproduction and motivation. Positive reinforcement can lead to reciprocal determinism; if we are positively reinforced, we are likely to repeat this behaviour to achieve higher levels of positive reinforcement. This is generally how people become more and more aggressive. This theory is supported by Bandura’s Bobo doll study. Children were put into 3 conditions; the children were exposed to an aggressive adult continuously hitting and punching the toy, the children were exposed to a non-aggressive adult who played quietly in the corner, or the control group where no adult was shown. Bandura found that the children in condition 1 were much more aggressive and imitated all of the behaviour shown by the adult. Therefore proving that aggressive behaviour is learnt through observation and imitation.

Deindividuation theory claims that people behave more aggressively when they’re part of a relatively large, anonymous group. This is because they lose their personal identity and therefore lose their inhibitions of violence. Gustav stated that in a crowd, a combination of anonymity, suggestibility and contagion mean that the individual loses all self-control and act in a way that goes against personal or social norms. Factors that contribute to Deindividuation are anonymity, altered consciousness due to drugs or alcohol. People usually refrain from antisocial behaviour because there are social norms inhibiting it, however being in a crowd supposedly diminishes awareness of individuality and reduces inner restraints of behaviour we would usually not condone. The larger the group, the larger the anonymity and so the more antisocial they will behave.

The neural and hormonal explanation of aggression states that we behave aggressively due to chemical imbalances in our body. The first example is serotonin; low levels of serotonin are thought to reduce control of impulsive and aggressive behaviour, similarly high levels of dopamine are thought to also increase aggressive behaviour. Research has shown that amphetamines (dopamine inhibitors) also reduce aggressive behaviour, suggesting that high levels of dopamine are associated with aggression levels. The hormonal mechanisms involved are testosterone and cortisol. High levels are testosterone are thought to increase aggressive behaviour as it lowers the amount of serotonin in the brain, therefore reducing control of impulsive and aggressive behaviour. Similarly, low levels of cortisol are linked to aggressive behaviour because high levels of cortisol inhibits testosterone levels, thus reducing aggression, so when cortisol levels are…


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