• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Outline and evaluate biological explanations of aggression

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Outline and evaluate biological explanations of aggression The biological explanation of aggression suggests that aggression is caused by genetics, brain structure or bio-chemical influences - hormones such as testosterone and neurotransmitters such as serotonin. It includes only biological factors ignoring environmental, psychological and social factors which are better explained by of the social-psychological explanation. The first theory linking genetics to aggression was Court-Brown's research study. Sandberg was the first to identify the 47 XYY karyotype. Normally every human has 46 chromosomes - 23 from the mother and 23 from the father. When a male, has an extra Y chromosome the 47th chromosome it makes them XYY and this would be a genetic disorder. Court-Brown conducted a longitudinal study on 314 males with XYY chromosome and suggested that males with this chromosome would be better hospitalised 'due to an increased likelihood of aggressive behaviour'. Many institutions took on this idea without further research and as a result many males where hospitalised. This would support the biological view that genetics can cause a person to become aggressive as Court-Brown provided evidence for this, however after further research he further retracted his comments as much of it was based on assumption. Further research into the XYY karyotype found that the only thing that the extra chromosome affected was physical characteristics such as increased height and it did not affect aggressive behaviour in any way. ...read more.

Middle

They may be other factors other that genetics that play a role in aggression for example, a person's up-bringing may cause them to act aggressively or the type of culture they belong to may also play a part so to improve its explanation the genetic theory could input some of these ideas into the theory. Another theory from the biological approach which suffers similar problems like reductionism and determinism is the hormonal/neurotransmitter approach. The approach argues that high levels of the hormone testosterone lead to aggression while low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin lead to aggression. Wagner et al. did research which supported the link between aggression and testosterone. They castrated mice and found that levels of aggression decreased and that there was also a drop in male typical behaviours such as biting. When the mice received testosterone injections levels of aggression started to increase. This would support the view that levels of testosterone can lead to aggression. Another study in this area was by Harrison, he gave male participants aged 20 -56 testosterone injections and then gave them a frustrating game to play. He noted that aggression did increases in all of the men but to differing extents. Furthermore affects were mainly psychological and there were few physical affects. ...read more.

Conclusion

This would make the explanation deterministic. Brain structure can also play a part in aggression particularly when there is damage to the brain. Phineas Gage is an example of how damage to the brain can cause a individual to behave more aggressively. After an accident involving his head and a tamping iron, Phineas Gage went from being mild-mannered to showing very aggressive behaviour. This suggests that certain parts of the brain can alter aggression. However this is only true of one individual. Gage's case was very unique in that in can never be replicated as it would obviously be unethical and also there will never be an exact case like it. So generalising the findings would be very limited. In conclusion, the biological explanation seems to have a high emphasis on nature and focuses mainly on the biological factors that may cause aggression. Aggression can not be caused by biological factors alone, there must be other influences and explanations as to what causes aggression. The explanation ignores these making it reductionist. It could include psychodynamic causes, social and environmental and also cognitive explanations to further improve on the explanation. Also aggression can not just be put down to one cause - even if a person has high levels of testosterone and low levels of serotonin it does not mean that they are going to behave aggressively. Aggression may also depend on situations and events that occur so it cannot only be put it all down to biological influences. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Social Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

Summary

This essay has covered most aspects of the biological argument for aggressive behaviour in humans. The writer has cited various studies and has also added some criticism of these. The referencing needs to be improved as well as the introduction. However, the writer has both outlined and evaluated the biological explanation of aggression.

Score 4*

Marked by teacher Linda Penn 05/09/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Social Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The effect of the Level of Processing on the amount of information recalled

    4 star(s)

    This is a specific criticism of the LOP model. The LOP is more of a notion rather than explanation of how memory works. http://www.mtsu.edu/~sschmidt/Cognitive/LOP/LOP.html Craik and Tulving used the term 'overspill coding' to describe the processing of a word at more than one level of the model.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    What is atypical behaviour?

    3 star(s)

    taking off your clothes to go to the shops naked is not. What determines the judgement of normal or atypical are the social expectations of the situation you find yourself in. ('situational norms'). There are also then the 'developmental norms'; this is where normality or abnormality is judged depending on the development age of the person.

  1. Critically evaluate how psychological theories, concepts, and explanations have been employed in the psychology ...

    This kind of dependence demonstrates an overriding compulsion to take the drug, even when the individual is certain in the knowledge that it is harmful, or when aware of the consequences of possession of the substance (Ghodse 1995). The other type of dependence is physical dependence, also defined by Eddy

  2. Evaluation of Milgram's Obedience Study

    21 out of 22 obeyed the doctor's command. This was a field experiment and showed high ecological validity. The nurses were not aware that they were in an experiment and therefore could not have shown demand characteristics, and the obedience rate was still extremely high.

  1. Whistleblowing, The Problems and the Issue.

    treatment of whistleblowers sends a potent message to other potential dissidents about what might happen to them should they release information relating to the firm. A lone whistleblower that is ruthlessly squashed may leave a corrupt organization less open to change than before.

  2. What are the main methods of investigation available to psychologists? Drawing on evidence from ...

    An additional disadvantage to this non-experimental approach is that cause and effect cannot be determined, so there is a limit as to what can be concluded. The third and final main method used in psychological research is through observational studies.

  1. Outline and evaluate explanations of obedience

    by introducing policies such as recycling in small stages and slowly building upon them as opposed to introducing everything in one go. In addition to this understanding several explanations of obedience can help people to protect themselves against them, for instance to prevent things such as

  2. Descibe and discuss 2 psychological factors that influence the developement of interpersonal relationships

    Toma and Hancock (2010) took photographs of the internet daters and compared them to their online profile pictures. Although less physically attractive people were the most likely to choose a self-enhancing photo, overall the differences were minimal towards the lab photo.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work