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'Discuss one or more social psychological theories of aggression.'

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Introduction

'Discuss one or more social psychological theories of aggression.' Social psychology attempts to explain aggression through several different theories. Two theories include the theory of effects of deindividuation and the theory looking at the effects environmental stressors can have on aggressive behaviour. Deindividuation refers to the anonymity a person can feel for example, in crowd situations such as football games and when their identity is hidden with a mask, costume, or uniform. An explanation of aggressive behaviour could be offered by the theory that a person who feels anonymous may therefore feel less inhibited by social norms, therefore increasing the likelihood of aggressive behaviour occurring. Zimbardo's (1973) classic prison study can illustrate the effects of deindividuation through observing the behaviour of the guards in uniform; but this does not explain the non-aggressive behaviour of the prisoners who were also deindividuated. ...read more.

Middle

Glass et al. (1969) found that random noise has a 'psychic' cost because it required attention, whereas constant noise can be 'tuned out'. In this experiment, noise led to frustration. Links are often made between severe overcrowding, which leads to psychological 'crowding', and aggression. For example, Calhoun (1962) found that even though the rats were well looked after, a steady increase in the numbers of rats in the enclosure could be linked with the dramatic increase in aggression. These findings are possibly the effects of the overcrowding of the enclosure. This study lacks ecological validity. It is also important to be careful not to generalise the behaviour of the rats to all species, especially humans. Freedman (1973) suggests the arousal of the senses due to a crowd environment can improve your mood. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is probable that a combination of these social psychological theories, and possible ones not mentioned here (e.g. social constructionism, frustration-aggression hypothesis, social learning theory, etc.) would provide the best possible explanation. Deindividuation can explain aggression sometimes, however, does not explain why deindividuation often causes an increase in pro-social behaviour, instead of the opposite. Environmental stressors seem to have some effect in aggression, but data from real-life situations does not consistently support this theory. In any case, both theories suggest possible applications to the real world and potential future studies. Further study into a prison situation, but with prison guards who lack the anonymity caused by deindividuation could help determine whether improvements could be made in the correctional system. There is also a move towards a more 'employee-friendly' workplace in order to decrease stress for employees and increase their efficiency and health. This may be partly due to the psychological research in the area. ...read more.

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