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Outline and evaluate the hormonal and neural explanations of aggression

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Outline and evaluate the hormonal and neural explanations of aggression- The hormonal and neural account is part of the biological explanation for aggression. This means that it mainly believes that the cause for this behaviour is something internal rather than external. This account focuses on three main factors which are believed to be the cause for aggression- hormonal, neural and the brain structure. In the UK since the 1980s there has been a series of high-profile cases where hormonal changes surrounding premenstrual tension have been used to claim temporary insanity against a charge for particular aggressive acts. In R v Smith (1979) a murder charge was successfully reduced to man slaughter when PMT was taken as a contributing factor behind the killing that occurred. The lawyers acting for the females in these cases argued that their clients were acting as 'automatons' of their body. Here, the aggressive acts is said to be caused by the uncontrollable hormonal changes associated with the monthly cycle. This court case shows how psychology has real-life consequences. Nelson (1995) found that generally there does seem to be a positive correlation between the levels of androgens circulating in the body and aggressive behaviour in female and male partners. ...read more.


The reciprocal model of testosterone suggests that testosterone levels vary with the person's dominance. The level of the testosterone is the effect of, and not the cause of, dominance. Maxur and Booth (1998) studied 2, 100 air force veterans over a 10 year period. They were given 4 medical examinations and found that when married their testosterone levels reduced an increased upon divorce. Zitzmann (2006) argues that the link between testosterone and aggression is most probably only relevant in strength athletes (such as weightlifters) who may supplement their testosterone to excessively high levels. A lot of the research done in this area used male participants, because they produce more testosterone than females. However, this is still an example of gender bias. However, research by Grant and France (2001) has found evidence that 'high testosterone' levels in women are likely to report dominating behaviour, but other studies have found no such in relationships. Another explanation of aggressive behaviour is that it is the result of particularly neural mechanisms, including specific neurotransmitters and also looking at the role of brain structure. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter- research suggests that serotonin influences aggressive and violent behaviour. ...read more.


Potegal disagrees and argues that human and animals are basically the same but the details are different. Much of scientific research takes place in Western, industrialised societies, which are often where the facilities for research can be found and the financial incentive to study it. This can mean it is culturally specific and generalizations to other cultures are difficult. This explanation views human behaviour in a very deterministic fashion, which suggests that humans do not have the free-will to choose their behaviours and actions. Animal research does raise the question of whether the end result justifies the mean. Researchers need to consider ethical issues. To assume that aggressive behaviour has just one cause ignores the other factors that contribute to aggressive behaviour, such as how culture might influence aggressive behaviour shown as a result of socialisation. Examples of how culture might influence as shown by research studies: Mead (1935) studied the Arapesh tribe and Brown (1986) studied the Simbu tribal people. Biological explanations also ignore the possibility that aggression might be learned as well as ignoring situational factors. Finally, the biological approach ignores the argument that the showing of aggressive behaviour might simply be the result of frustration, which ultimately becomes an aggressive action through the identification of aggressive cues in the environment. Jyotsna Choudrie ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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