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Outline and evaluate research relating to the effects of two environmental stressors on aggression

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Outline and evaluate research relating to the effects of two environmental stressors on aggression On environmental stressor on aggression is temperature. It has been found that high temperature causes an increase in a person's level of arousal. High temperature can make a person agitated or irritable, thus when they encounter a situation that causes stress their levels of arousal increase which consequently increases their levels of aggression. Palmarek and Rule (1979) conducted a study in which they asked participants to do tasks in either a high temperature or a comfortable temperature. It was found that greater aggression occurred when there was moderate arousal. When there was low or high arousal, aggressive behaviour was reduced. When the temperatures became exceptionally high, the participants became more interested in finishing the task rather than prolonging the situation with aggressive altercations. However, a problem is that Anderson and Anderson blamed demand characteristics for the findings observed in Palmarek's study. This means that the findings may have been influenced by the fact that the study was conducted in a laboratory environment, therefore the participants would not be reacting in the same way as they would if they were in a natural environment. ...read more.


The fact that they are around many other people may be a contributing factor to their high levels of aggression. This goes against Palmarek's study as this proposes that there are other variables that influence levels of aggression in a person in high temperatures. A second environmental stressor on aggression is thought to be overcrowding. It has been argued that emotional arousal can increase as people feel that their personal space is violated and often results in people withdrawing from social contact. Stokols proposed three ways of explaining why overcrowding can lead to aggression. The first theory is called Stimulus overload. This suggests that aggression may occur when the amount of stimulation produced by crowding exceeds our ability to deal with it. Calhouse conducted a study and found that rats became more aggressive as the number living together increased. The aggression got so high that at one point young rats were killed or eaten by others. This shows that rats were responding to stimulus overload caused by the extreme number of other rats living with them. ...read more.


The third theory is the Ecological model which proposes that insufficient resources such as food and privacy may result from crowding, which would lead to aggression. Loo found that children became more aggressive as the number of people in their nursery increased, yet it decreased once the density got past a certain point. This shows that the children were competing for adult attention and use of toys. However, a problem is that from the evidence it seems that crowding is related to aggression, but the relationship is complex as the effects of crowding vary with social context, for example a crowded party may produce different effects to a political party of a major football game. This shows that the ecological model is restricted in what it can explain. A final general criticism is that laboratory studies in the past have produced mixed results. An example of this is Freedman et al's study in which he found that crowding increased aggression in all male groups but the opposite occurred in all female groups. This is problematic because it is apparent that the effects of crowding differ between the two genders, therefore the findings from one experiment can not generalise to everybody. ?? ?? ?? ?? Kirsty Dunlop ...read more.

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