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Outline and Evaluate theories and research explaning institutional aggression

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Outline and evaluate theories and research explaining institutional aggression. Institutional aggression is a form of aggression which is present in institutions such as the police, armed forces and security services, as well as criminal and terrorist groups (i.e. those who are bound together by a common purpose to be aggressive). There have been a number of theories developed to try and explain the cause of institutional aggression. The theories fall into two categories which are situational factors (referring to factors present in social situations), and dispositional factors (referring to characteristics of the individual e.g. personality). The first theory trying to explain intuitional aggression is based on situational factors was Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment. In this experiment a sample of 24 male participants (pps) was used and each pps was given a full physical and mental evaluation to ensure full health. Pps were randomly allocated into roles as guards or prisoners. As the pps started to get into their roles the guards became more and more controlling. Guard Hellman was found to be one of the most aggressive officers. Before Hellman had entered the experiment he had described himself as someone who loves all people. Zimbardo concluded that it was the 'situation' that had made Hellman behave the way he did. This research supports the situational explanation of aggression because it emphasises how people will act aggressively when they are in a certain situation. ...read more.


He noted that the status and power of those involved was a factor that may have contributed to the behavior of the soldiers. Those who were involved were usually low ranking officers, by doing this they may have thought that would move up in status. Also deindividuation may have caused the soldiers to act in the way the did as they may have been deindividuated because they were wearing a uniform and also because they were in a large group. This may have caused them not to feel as though they had a personal identity. This scenario is hard to retest or generalise because of the unique nature of the situation. Can these findings even be applied to other soldiers behavior in other wars? The soldiers may have felt that since they were in a seemingly lawless country that there would be no repercussions. So therefore it may have been this unique situation only where this kind of behavior would be seen also as it can not be replicated it is not reliable. Dispositional factors can not be ruled out. To become a soldier you have to be a certain kind of person and have certain traits within that would relate to the job so the soldiers could have certain qualities within them that may have caused them to act in the way they did. ...read more.


There are however lots of examples were people have a certain disposition to act in a certain way but they don't. e.g. Soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison, not all of them behaved in the way that the others soldiers did so it would suggest that not everyone acts on these dispositional factors. This brings in the element of freewill, as humans we have a choice and we can decide to act in certain ways, Black and Barak's research does not account for this however and suggests that dispositional factors control how we act. On the whole the explanation blames the individual for their excessive level of aggression. It ignores wider social contributory factors, e.g. the schooling system, social services and so on, which may have failed the person. This explanation fits in better with our social conscious as it blames the person rather than society. This explanation therefore does not explain institutional aggression in well as it leaves out some vital factors that may affect institutional aggression. The explanations of aggression are not wholesome. They seem to leave out major explanations and are reductionist. Neither of these theories accurately explain institutional aggression. The situational explanation is more socially sensitive and it may not be favoured by some because of this. The dispositional explanation blames the individual, which would seem to be making excuses for people. So if both the explanations were blended together it would create a better understanding and explanation of institutional aggression. ?? ?? ?? ?? Priscilla ...read more.

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