social psychology - aggression and intergroup conflict

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  • Created by: M.e.D
  • Created on: 15-10-15 16:05

evolultionary approaches of aggression

  • Lorenz
  • aggression comes from within the individual as an adaptive response
  • we have the urge to agress because this instict has proved very useful for survival
  • agression = adpative becuase it encouraged species to disperse and gave the phsyically stongest the greatest opportunites to repoduce  
  • agression has an adaptive function 

Aggression not necessarily adaptive today:

  • Changed living conditions
  • Display rituals less available
  • Implements of aggression more immediate
  • Implements of aggression more remote
  • now days humans no longer need agression to survive and phsyical strength is not that important (largely due to technology and weapons e.g guns)


  • de-emphasises the idea that there is meaning and purpose behind agression (its just a shallow instictive bahveiour, not a result of something deep and meanigful)
  • stripped of all contextualising detail e.g. views fighting in a war the same as fighting in a oub fight - ignores situational factors 
  • goes against the idea of evoliotion - how can something that kills so many people be an adaptive sresponse to help aid survival

Situational approaches to aggression

Frustration - aggression hypothesis

  • Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer and Sears (1939)
  • very importan theory in social psychology
  • aimed to finad an explanation for all human agressive acts 
  • and pinpoint what in the environment could bring this about
  • hypothisezed that all acts of agression can be traced back to some prior frustration
  • frustration = when we cannot get something we want (our goal response is blocked)
  • any time we are frustrated it will result in some level of aggression


  • Miller (1941)  - felt that whistlt all agression is due to frustration, not all frustration leads to aggression
  • frustration can have other consequences
  • or it can result in a 'instagtion of agression' or 'readiness for agression' but the person may not follow through 
  • we are cabable of restraining oursleves


  • an importnat approach that has led to many subsequwnt research
  • led to an increased emphasisi on focusing on situational/ external factors


  • very reductionist - we act aggressively beacuase we are frustrated - very simple and reduces people to child like behaviour
  • doesnt consider the purposefulness/ meaning behind the aggresion 
  • Berkowitz (62,89) - it is not just frustrations whihc lead to aggression - also perceptions of being deprived of what we want and also an aversive event (unpleasant event). its not always just because out goal repsonse is blocked. we need to broadan this theory to include a vast range of environemental factors that we consider unpleasant, 

Averisve stimuli and agression 

  • Berkowitz (62,89) 
  • emphasised agression as a result of ANY aversive situations not just frustrating ones
  • it is not the frustration of frurstarting situations that give rise to aggression - but the unpleasantness of the situations
  • any 'negative effect' (anger, sadness, guilt) can produce aggresion 
  • in studies particpants were first 'angered', then exposed to experimental stimuli, and thne given a chnace to act aggressivley
  • angered in a few ways e.g. eletric shocks given from fellow participnat or treated in patronising and insulting manner 
  • the…


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