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Outline and evaluate two theories of aggression.

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Outline and evaluate two theories of aggression. Baron described aggression as 'behaviour designed to harm or injure another who is motivated to avoid such treatment'. According to Berkowitz (1989) and Bandura (1965) although the aggressive behaviour in animals can be explained in terms of instinctive drives, aggression in humans is the product of learning. They claim that aggressive behaviour is learned either through direct experience or by observing others. Learning by direct experience is derived from Skinner's principles of operant reinforcement. In other words if a child pushes another child and as a result gets something they want, the action is reinforced and is more likely to occur in similar situations in the future. Learning through observing others usually occurs when a child sees a role model behaving in a particular way and reproduces the behaviour. The child is then said to be imitating the behaviour of the model. For someone to imitate behaviour such as aggression, it must be seen to be rewarding in some way. Bandura and his colleagues carried out a series of experiments involving children exposed to the aggressive behaviour of an adult model. ...read more.


Social learning theory can account for the lack of consistency in people's aggressive behaviour. If someone is assertive and domineering at home but weak and submissive at work, it means that they are reinforced differently in the two situations. They have learned to behave differently in the two situations because assertiveness brings rewards in one context but not in another. Social learning theory explanations have also lead to an increased focus on the effects of visual media on both children and adults. If violence is learned then exposure to successfully aggressive models may lead people to imitate them (Hogg and Vaughan, 1998). Aggression can, therefore, be passed across generations, as each new generation observes and imitates what it perceives to be appropriate and successful behaviours of the preceding generation. However biological explanations suggest that a higher level of the male hormone testosterone is a primary casual agent in aggressive behaviour. Also Premenstrual syndrome has been cited in criminal trials as a reason for aggressive behaviour. These together with other biological explanations cast doubt on aggression being purely a learned behaviour. The social learning theory itself relies heavily on experimental evidence and field studies in which there are some mythological flaws. ...read more.


He found that hidden by lab coats and hoods half the group gave double the shocks given by participants dressed in normal clothes. More recent developments of the concept of Deindividuation have distinguished between the effects of reduced public self-awareness (being anonymous to others) and reduced private self-awareness. A person who is self focused tends to ct according to internalised attitudes and moral standards. If the person submerges themselves within a group, they may loose this focus and become less privately self-aware. This reduction in private self -awareness is associated with increased antisocial behaviour (Prentice, Dunn & Rogers, 1989) Although much of the early evidence for Deindividuation was supportive, the concept is not without its problems, not least, of which is the findings in some studies that Deindividuation may produce increases in pro-social behaviour, for example expressions of collective god will at religious rallies.The Deindividuation perspective argues that our submergence in a group indeterminism the influence of social norms. This is a sharp contrast to social psychological research, which has demonstrated the strong normative hold that groups have on individual members. Rather than individuals pursuing behaviour based on primitive urges and not conforming to societies norms, they might be seen as conforming to a 'local' group norm (Manstead et al. 1995). This norm need not necessarily be antisocial, and could thus account four some contradictory findings. ...read more.

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