PSYA3 Revision AGGRESSION Syllabus Social psychological approaches to explaining aggression Biological explanations of aggression • Social psychological theories of aggression, (social learning theory, deindividuation) • Explanations of institutional aggression • The role of neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression (testosterone, serotonin, frontal lobe abnormalities) • The role of genetic factors in aggressive behaviour (Family Studies, XYY, MAOA) Aggression as an adaptive response • Evolutionary explanations of human aggression, including infidelity and jealousy • Explanations of group display in humans, for example sports events and lynch mobs Discuss social psychological theories of aggression • • • SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY Observational learning 4 Requirements before imitation – – – – • • A_________ R______ M______ (V_________ Reinforcement) R______ Characteristics of model are key. We will imitate aggressive models who are... For e.g… Classic mistake made by students when ‘describing’ the theory? • • • EVALUATION Evidence – Bandura’s studies Commentary – operationalisation of aggression; sample issues; ecological validity • Incomplete and Behaviourally / environmentally deterministic which may have moral implications NOMOTHETIC and too simplistic (focus on nurture) • • • • • Alternative bio explanations are more parsimonious and need to be recognised for a more complete explanation. For example… Diathesis – Stress = most complete Practical and theoretical applications – e.g? Culture specific Discuss social psychological theories of aggression • • • • • 2. Deindividuation When an individual becomes part of a group they become A_____________ There is also a D______ of R_________ across the group This leads to dis-inhibited, impulsive behaviour such as aggression and less concern about personal / social morals and rules and disapproval (which also increases the likelihood of aggression) Deindividuation can be further stimulated by contextual factors (e.g...) so if these are present in a situation, aggression is more likely • • EVALUATION Evidence – MUST BE APPLIED – – – • Commentary – • – • Artificial, ethnocentric, sample issues, etc Incomplete and Deterministic – • ZIMBARDO Diener Watson most times crowds are not aggressive (give an e.g.) Sometimes people are aggressive when they are easily identifiable Deterministic and too simplistic on its own (focus on Nurture) - alternative (bio) explanations need to be considered such as... Diathesis – Stress = most complete • Deindividuation does not always lead to aggression (Gergen’s dark room study to support?) • Major PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS – E.g… Neural and Hormonal Mechinisms • TWO hormonal mechinisms – SEROTONIN – TESTOTERONE • NEURAL mechanisms = abnormalities / damage to the brain – FRONTAL LOBES, Hypothalamus, amygdala • CLAIM -> ELABORATION -> SUPPORTING OBSERVATION Discuss the role of neural and hormonal factors in aggression 1. TESTOTERONE • Claim – There is a link between androgens, specifically high levels of testoterone and aggression • • • • 2. SEROTONIN • Claim – Low serotonin action = aggression • Elaboration – This makes sense as testosterone is the principle male sex hormone and in all cultures males demonstrate higher aggression Support - Castrated Mice (NB. Castration significantly lowers testosterone) leads to... Injecting testosterone into castrated mice does what... Anabolic steroids and ‘roid rage’… Elaboration – Makes sense as serotonin has an inhibitory function for impulsive aggressive acts. – Also, you could explain what could cause low serotonin… • Support – SSRI (serotonergic) drugs clinically raise serotonin (by preventing re-uptake) and… (e.g. often used with institutionalised juveniles) Discuss the role of neural and hormonal factors in aggression EVALUATION • Evidence – LOTS! • Commentary – Methodological strengths – objective measures, Purely correlational, case study problems , Methodological reductionism and low ecological validity – Extrapolation – Problems with the measurement of aggression (inconsistent) 3. NEURAL FACTORS • Claim – aggression could be due to neuroanatomical (brain) abnormalities, e.g. As a result of accidents • • Elaboration – Specific brain areas which have been implicated include the hypothalamus, Amygdala and Pre-Frontal Cortex • Objective and testable / scientific • ‘hard’ determinism which has moral implications Parsimonious but Too Simplistic and Incomplete – Explain the function of these and why they have been linked to aggression • Support – PHINEUS GAGE - damage to the PFC as a result of… following his accident he became... • • Alternative non-bio explanations Diathesis – Stress = most complete • But... Key practical applications GENETIC factors and Aggression • General claim is that aggression is caused by inherited genetic abnormalitites • Same structure as neural / hormonal • CLAIM -> ELABORATION -> SUPPORTING OBSERVATION • Four possible content areas – – – – SELECTIVE BREEDING FAMILY STUDIES XYY MAOA • This essay ‘builds’ quite nicely… Discuss the role of genetic factors in aggression 1. SELECTIVE BREEDING • LAGERSPETZ – Aggressive mice can be developed through SELECTIVE BREEDING… (explain this). Demonstrates that aggression can be passed through genes – But… Extrapolation issues; operationalisation of aggression is too specific (‘biting behaviour’) 2. FAMILY STUDIES • Evidence that aggression tends to run in families – McGUE - .43 concordance for aggression across MZ twins but onl 0.3 across DZ twins. Suggests a role of genetics but… • – But shared environment criticism; operationalisation of aggression… MEDNICK – Danish Study found crime convicitions were most likely in boys who had both biological AND adoptive parents with convictions. Suggests a role of both NATURE and NURTURE So the next stage for researchers was to try and identify SPECIFIC genetic abnormalities which lead to aggression 3. XYY Chromosome Defect • 1:1000 males – gives males an extra chromosome. • Increased testosterone, impulsivity – link to aggression is clear • Defect as high as 3% in prisoners • HOWEVER… 26,290 candidate genes on this extra chromosome 4. MAOA-L genetic variation • MAOA regulates an enzyme which removes the build up of serotonin, dopamine and noradrenalin, allowing brain cells to communicate more effectively. • The abnormal MAOA-L variant prevents production of MAOA enzyme which leads to a build up of these chemicals, causing abnormal neuronal communication, resulting in aggression. • EVIDENCE from BRUNNERS study into a Dutch family… Discuss the role of genetic factors in aggression EVALUATION • PLENTY OF EVIDENCE • Commentary = Shared environment and twin studies; Extrapolation; Unrepresentative case studies; Problems with the measurement (operationalisation) of aggression; Correlations not cause and effect • HARD DETERMINISM and must be incomplete because… – NB. Could also mention how XYY/MAOA-L does not explain FEMALE aggression (gender bias) • TOO Simplistic – Alternative Social-Psych theories need considering too (briefly explain 1). • DIATHESIS – STRESS offers the most complete explanation • MORAL IMPLICATIONS because… BUT may have PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS because… Institutional Aggression • USE WHAT YOU KNOW! • Outline / Discuss Explanations For Institutional Aggression • Outline / Discuss research into institutional aggression – Same question; describe and evaluate situational, dispositional, interactionist THEORIES BUT make sure you apply them to e.gs of institutional aggression • Outline one example of institutional aggression – Identify and example (e.g. Abu Gharib, prison riots), outline the aggression, apply theory to explain BRIEFLY! Discuss explanations of Institutional Aggression SITUATIONAL • The environment within the institution causes the aggression (bad barrels) DISPOSITIONAL • Aggression is imported into the institution (bad apples) – Deprivation of needs (e.g.?) causes frustration = aggression – Deindividuation (the institution must be set up for this e.g. Through the use of...) – Conformity, SLT (when one person is aggressive…) – Genetic and neural abnormalities (see previous notes – Race, background (think about the Attica prison riots) CONCLUDE with reference to INTERACTIONIST theories e.g. DIATHESIS - STRESS Discuss explanations of Institutional Aggression EVALUATION • A little tricky – make sure you APPLY • Evaluate each ‘general’ theory (situational, dispositional) • • • • Some evidence Theoretical Applications Practical Applications Deterministic, Incomplete and too simplistic – explain with reference to institutional aggression • An ‘interactionist’ conclusion is good evaluation Evolutionary Explanations • Always refer back to evolution, e.g. increased chances of S_________ and R___________ • May be asked SPECIFICALLY about the role of infidelity and sexual jealousy – WATCH OUT FOR THIS! • Can include reference to infidelity and sexual jealousy in a ‘general’ essay on evolution and aggression Evolutionary Explanations BASIC EVOLUTIONARY THEORY • Basic CLAIM – Aggression has evolved through natural selection as it is an adaptive behaviour (provides increased chances of SURVIVAL and REPRODUCTION • ELABORATION - Increase Survival includes protecting / gaining resources • Increased Reproduction chances – displays of aggression establishes dominance over competitors and provides STATUS in a group which is attractive; aggression PROTECTS relationships (controls partners); • EXTENSION - Different types of aggression in males and females? Aggression may be ‘TACTICALLY CALCULATED’ • SUPPORT – aggression can be seen in all cultures (it universal), which is loose evidence of its evolutionary basis ROLE OF JEALOUSY and INFIDELITY • CLAIM - Infidelity poses different RISKS / THREATS to males (CUCKULDRY) and females (withdrawal of RESOURCES). These REDUCE chances of successful genetic transmission through offspring • Aggression may therefore be a response to PROTECT a relationship and INCREASES chances of genetic transmission • CLAIM - JEALOUSY may be an EVOLVED EMOTIONAL STATE which is triggered by the THREAT of infidelity. Jealousy may lead to aggression as a way to reestablish / protect the relationship and thus increase chances of genetic transmission • Could mention difference between sexual and emotional infidelity / jealousy and how this impacts on males and females • Could Mention specific types of Phys / Verbal Aggression used by males and females to protect a relationship / enhance chances of genetic transmission (MATE RETENTION TACTICS) Evolutionary Explanations - Evaluation • Evidence and Commentary (ethical ways to investigate aggression? Problems with data collection; sample issues) – E.g. Chagnon and the Yanomamo tribe (who got the best women?) – Shackleford’s research into Mate Retention – Research into infidelity and jealousy and sources of aggression • • Unfalsifiable and Post Hoc Less reductionist as it takes into account biological and past environmental pressures but could still be too simplistic as it ignores the role of contemporary pressures. Alternative explanations emphasise ‘here and now’ such as SLT (summarise briefly) • Very Deterministic and serious moral implications (male mate retention behaviour a justified response to threats due to evolution?); Must be incomplete as some people do not respond with aggression even when resources are threatened • • • Some practical applications – knowledge can be used to identify the early stages of aggression and prevent progression to more serious aggression Not gender bias – recognizes the differences between males and females and explains the different types of aggression seen in each Evolutionary Explanations of Group Displays of Aggression • Must use Evolutionary theory to explain WHY aggression occurs in groups • Remember – being in a group INCREASES chances of survival and victory! • Outline one example of a group display of aggression – Identify one example you have studied, explain the aggression and apply theory to explain it! Evolutionary Explanations of group displays of aggression POWER – THREAT HYPOTHESIS • Aggression is an evolved response to a perceived threat to a groups dominance by a growing minority • Aggression is used to re-establish dominance / suppress the threat • Group aggression makes evolutionary sense as it offers the greatest chances of SURVIVAL • Could mention social cohesion and the use of dehumanisation and legitimising myths SOCIAL DOMINANCE • An extension / addition to PowerThreat • Aggression is a way to maintain established SOCIAL HIERARCHIES • Aggression is a result of challenges to these hierarchies • Group aggression will allow access to the resources of the other groups! Applied examples include warfare, lynch mobs, sports teams and crowds? (Egyptian football riot is a nice contemporary example) Evolutionary Explanations of Group Displays of Aggression - Evaluation • Evidence and commentary (NB. Always apply to group displays of aggression not just to aggression in general!) – – – Chagnon – warrior groups who use aggression were more successful (increased survival) and were also provided with the best resources (women) as a reward Blaylock and surveys about lynching found they were most common in times of economic and political upheaval, suggesting group displays of aggression like lynchings are a way to reestablish social hierarchies and group dominance Clarke contradicts (victims of lynchings were NOT a political or economic threat) • Theoretical Applications – can be used to explain historical examples of group aggression • • Unfalsifiable and Post-Hoc; Less reductionist than other theories but ignores contemporary influences such as the role of technology which may trigger / contribute to aggression (e.g. Use of social networking in the recent riots to coordinate / trigger the group aggression) • Deterministic and must be incomplete (some groups are not aggressive, even when threatened – student protests? Ghandi and his followers? Mela Festival) Alternative explanations of group displays • – – SLT, De-individuation (many groups are constructed to allow de-individuation (e.g. Uniforms of the KKK); use Rothenberg to critique – most lynchings occur in the daylight which reduces anonymity) Conformity – maybe aggression occurs in groups because people are simply conforming due to normative influence and a fear of opposing?