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Outline and evaluate two or more social psychological theories of aggression.

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Introduction

´╗┐Outline and evaluate two or more social psychological theories of aggression. Deindividuation theory is a social psychological explanation of aggression. It explains how rational individuals can become aggressive hooligans in a mob or crowd as it suggests that losing their sense of identity and self awareness deindividuates people. Individuals in groups fail to see the consequences of their actions, and the social norms they would normally follow are forgotten and this is when aggressive behaviour occurs. Deindividuation causes people unquestioningly to follow group norms instead of personal norms and sometimes these group norms lead to aggression. According to Zimbardo, in a crowd we feel anonymous and unaccountable and thus are less concerned about negative evaluations by others and less likely to be prevented from acting aggressively by guilt or shame. Prentice-Dunn identified two factors involved in Deindividuation; loss of public self-awareness where individuals lose a sense that others are aware of them and that they are identifiable. Loss of public self0awareness leads to a loss of public standards of behaviour or a lowering of inhibitions. Another factor is loss of private self-awareness where the individual loses their own sense of awareness of themselves. Loss of private self-awareness leads to a loss of internal standards and hence an over-reliance on environmental cues, for example others in the crowd. ...read more.

Middle

In fact, the prisoners were treated so brutally that the experiment had to be stopped after just six days. In the replication of Milgram?s study, ethical issues included deception, and lack of informed consent, as the participant was not told the true nature of the study and so had to be deceived. The participant?s right to withdraw was also an issue as it was made to seem that they had to continue shocking the learner. Ethical issues like these however, can be overcome with debriefing, which Zimbardo implemented. There is also a lack of support for the deindividuation theory as evidence appears to be mixed. A meta-analysis of 60 studies concluded that there is insufficient support for the major claims of this theory. For example Postmes and Spears found that disinihibition and antisocial behaviour are not more common in large groups and anonymous settings. Neither was there much evidence that deindividuation is associated with reduced self-awareness, or that self-awareness increases disinhibition of aggressive behaviour. Therefore we cannot be sure as to how valid this theory actually is. Also, although a lot of research into deindividuation has found associations between deindividuation and antisocial behaviour, some studies have shown that deindividuation may also increase the incidence of prosocial behaviour. When prosocial environmental cues were present, deindividuated participants performed significantly more selfless acts and significantly fewer antisocial acts compared to a control group. ...read more.

Conclusion

He found that children in the aggressive condition showed more verbal and physical aggression. Bandura concluded that the chances of aggressive acts being imitated increased if the aggressive model was reinforced but decreased if the model was punished. This supports social learning theory as it shows that imitation will only be seen if the behaviour is vicariously reinforced. Aggression was also more likely to be intimidated if a child identified with a model, for example boys were more aggressive if the model was male. However, there are several criticisms we can make with Bandura?s study. Methodological issues include the fact that Bobo dolls are not living people and does not retaliate when hit, and therefore lacks ecological validity. Therefore it is questionable as to how much the study tells us about the imitation of aggression towards other human beings. Also some people argue that there is high demand characteristics involved in this study as the situation was unfamiliar so the children may have been acting in the way they thought they were expected to. Social learning theory also ignores biological factors which may influence aggressive behaviour such as high levels of testosterone and ignores any evidence suggesting biological or genetic components influence human aggression and so the theory is reductionist. A strength of social learning theory however, is its ability to explain cultural differences in levels of aggression. Some cultures emphasize and model aggressive behaviour whereas others emphasise non-aggressive behaviour and produce individuals with low aggression levels ...read more.

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