Biological Explanations


1. Instincts

    -universal instinct for aggression?

    -"it's adaptive" = justification?

2. Neurons

"Murderers whose violence could not be attributed to abuse/neglect has 14% less active brain waves" (p. 380)




3. Genetic influences

    -are there friendly pitt bulls?



4. Biochemical influences (alcohol)

    -those who THINK they're drinking alcohol exhibit the same tendencies as those who drink alcohol.



Social Explanations

1.Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis (Classic)

"frustration always leads to aggression/aggression only caused by frustration"

Classic Evidence for:

e.g., Hoveland & Sears, 1940: - r ( cotton prices, lynching)

e.g., WW2

e.g., Doob & Sears:

Procedure: "Imagine you've been waiting for a bus for 1/2 hour, and it passes you by even though it was empty"

Results: most common response was verbal aggression against bus driver

Evidence Against:

a. Justified Frustration e.g., Pastore, 1952

Procedure: "Imagine you've been waiting for a bus for 1/2 hour and it passes you by. It had a "garage" sign on it, indicating it needs servicing.


b. Causal Attributions (Mitigating Information): if aggression can be attributed to an external source,retaliatory aggression will decrease.

e.g. Schacter & Singer, 1962

Procedure: Ss told they would be testing a drug


Revised Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis: 

Frustration leads to anger; aggressive cues allow aggression to occur


2. Social Learning Theory: learn to be aggressive by watching our role models

Evidences for: 

a.  Bandura, Ross & Ross' "THE BOBO DOLL" exp.



b. Learning aggression is wrong:

    e.g., Hoffman, 1960: + r(punishment, aggression)


Where we learn aggression:

1. Media/Aggression 

2. Sports Aggression

realistic=aggression that is not part of the game but occurs

ritualized= violent behavior considered socially acceptable

stylized= apparent aggression seen as acting or spoof

Is stylized aggression capable of teaching aggression?

3. Sexual Aggression/Pornography

Social Psychology 254