Theories of Aggression

2 February 2017

Abstract We live in a society where aggressive acts happen every day, but do we really know what causes it? Why do certain people seem more aggressive than others? Is there just one thing that controls when and how aggressive someone becomes? How can we come to explain such acts of aggression and violence? Are they a result of societal influences, or are some individuals biologically predisposed to crime? Do brain disorders, hormonal and chemical imbalances, environmental factors, such as heat, noise, air pollution and overcrowding increase our aggression level? Or is it something we choose to obtain?These are all questions that researchers have been addressing for many years. Some scientists try to treat the abnormal aggressive behavior with medication, while others go deeper and try to find out why they have abnormal behavior. Some answers are biological, like genes and hormones, other answers are psychological, like rejection as a cause of aggression, and still others are cultural, blaming aggression on violence in the media. In order to try to understand where aggression may arise from, you must understand how aggression is defined as well as the possibilities that may cause it.

This paper attempts to analyze factors dealing with nature vs. nurture and examine some of the existing theories of aggression. The theories can be classified into three groups: Freud’s instinct theory along with Konrad Lorenz’s biological theory (Myers, pg. 334), the frustration aggression hypothesis by John Dollard (Myers, pg. 338), and Bandura’s social learning theory (Myers, pg. 342). After finding the evidence produced for each, it is my goal to draw a conclusion about which theory seems most supported and reasonable.

Theories of Aggression Essay Example

Who’s to Blame for Aggression? Ever felt you need to smash something or punch someone, yet you couldn’t and had to kick the wall instead? Ever wondered why children yell and scream when they want something badly? Ever wondered why a parent of any kind would fight and kill if been threatened? The answer is aggression. Aggression is an action. It is intended to harm someone. Such behavior may take the form of physical attack against people or their possessions, or verbal attack such as insults, threats, sarcasm, or fear.Aggression also seems to be a way of maintaining social order among many species. The nature vs. nurture topic has been debatable for the aggressive aspects of human behavior.

The argument for nature is linked to biological reasons such as chemical, hormonal, or genetic basis. However, I personally believe that aggression is highly triggered by nurture aspects that involve societal reasons such as cognitive factors, family factors, economical factors, and peer influences. An analysis of the three major theories of aggression will help us streamline the top causation to aggression.Firstly, Freud’s instinct theory projected that aggression is an instinctive biological urge referred to as an innate behavior that is part of our genes, but does not give a real source for the aggression. The assumption behind his theory is life and death instincts; an example of this is fighting for survival. According to Fraud’s theory, aggression was the main representative of the death instinct. This theory is based on assumptions and it doesn’t seem to convince me why someone has to be aggressive to maintain what they want and need.

It appears to be linked to biological issues, because it is supposed to be instinctual, but what is it an instinct for? On that note, Konrad Lorenz looked at instinctual aggressiveness as some type of evolution. He says we have a biological need for aggression and it gets stronger as time passes and that our genes play a role in maintaining aggression to produce satisfaction. Despite what many theorists believe, in most cases I think aggression is not biological. It is a characteristic that people learn or get influenced by from other sources.Secondly, one of the first psychological theories of aggression is the frustration aggression theory. Frustration is a feeling of tension that occurs when our efforts to reach goals are blocked. If something happens to prevent people from achieving a goal, their frustration is likely to turn to aggression.

The closer you get to a goal, the greater the excitement and expectation of the pleasure. Therefore, the closer you are, the more frustrated you get by being held back. Unforeseen occurrence of the frustration tends to increase the level of aggression.For example, if you failed on your final exam you will definitely become frustrated, but what if someone you barley know told you “You are such an idiot not to pass that exam”. In this case, your stored frustration will surely turn into aggression. I am supportive of this theory because it makes full sense of what triggers our minds to act angrily in some situations. On the other hand, this theory doesn’t apply on everyone and frustration alone is not the primary reason why some countries have skyrocketing crime rates.

Finally, the social learning theory is the most well supported and documented theory of aggression, put forward by Albert Bandura. It tackles human aggression as something that is largely learned by watching other people behave aggressively. It is also learned when we are rewarded or punished for aggression. He argued that children learn aggressive responses from observing others, through the reinforcement of family members, the media and the environment. For instance, children who watch violence on TV, tend to gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems by imitating the violence they observe on TV.The media defends itself from the charge of encouraging violence by stating they are simply reflecting what exists. It’s like a chain reaction that passes on from one person to another.

I am highly supportive of this theory, and I believe that it is the leading cause to aggression. In conclusion, everyone has felt anger or aggression at some point of their lives, and we all face the same challenge of trying to control our temper. In my overall examination of aggression theories, I analyzed the existing evidence in support of the ideas of instinctual causes, biological factors, frustration, and social influences.Freud and Konrad Lorenz said that people behaved aggressively because it is human nature to be hostile and aggressive towards people who we dislike. They said that heredity, hormones, or brain dysfunction were the possible causes. I cannot support this theory of aggression because they’re mainly based on hypotheses and there is no existing empirical evidence to support it. Even though the biological theories of aggression have much to offer about the physical and neurobiological causes of aggressive acts but there is only limited evidence as of yet in this area.

Secondly, the frustration theory offers a reasonable explanation to why humans aggress towards unaccomplished goals, but not everyone has that feature, so we can’t rely on this theory as the leading cause. Finally, the most influential cause is the social learning theory occurs from observing, retaining and replicating behavior observed in others. All in all, aggression cannot and should not be explained by just one of these theories in particular. Rather, by combining the strengths of all the aggression theories, one can obtain a general and dependable ideology.

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