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Comparing and contrasting the Social learning theory of aggression with the Frustration-Aggression theory of aggression.

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Introduction

Comparing and contrasting the Social learning theory of aggression with the Frustration-Aggression theory of aggression. Filip Cabart In order to examine the two different approaches to aggression there is a clear necessity to define aggression as a term. Aggression is described as aversive behavior, usually directed onto a specific object. The two theories elaborate upon if aggression is or is not only a product of the surrounding environment or a product of the environment combined with the innate factors. The social learning theory is the one stating that aggression is evoked only by the environment, and therefore that it is a learned behavior. The key process in adopting aggressive behavior is the process of modeling, where the observer perceives aggression, usually in a positive manner and then tries to imitate it. All is based on the basic concept of operant and classical conditioning, where the observer is passively reinforced by the consequences of behavior of the observed aggressor and then he would be more or less likely to imitate it, depending if the consequences of observed aggression were positive (reinforcement) or negative (discouragement). To prove the theory, Bandura, Ross, and Ross (1961) conducted an experiment where young children (average age 52 months), were to see an aggressive model hit a bobo doll, and the children were then observed to imitate that behavior. ...read more.

Middle

This could give possible account for the inner drive of aggression, when people who had no apparent reason to harm the victim gave higher shock when their identity was covered and therefore they were freed from social norms and expectations that they should not cause harm to others. This is closely linked to the last factor which is the conformity to norms. Marsh (1978) studied aggression and norms within groups of football hooligans. His research supports the claim that aggression can be produced through conformity to norms of aggression that society and environment impose onto people. Within the group of football hooligans violence and aggression were expected by the group, however only to a certain extend (eg. Bleeding of the beaten opponent), exceeding this upper limit lead to exclusion from the group and such behavior was regarded as deviant. This seems as if aggressive behavior was elicited by a pattern of logical thought, however practically this takes place rather within the unconscious. These factors are only to give an account of the social factors effecting behavior, there are however two other branches that consider the non-social approach to aggression. These are the physiological approach and the drive theory approach. The physiological consists of the Genetic causes theory, that claims that the responsibility for aggression lies on a 'violent gene'. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is rather separated (mainly within the non-social factors) into numerous branches and different approaches. This does not necessarily mean to be demerit of the theory, however it gives it a fractionated appearance. The main difference in between the theories in means of implications for reducing aggression is that the frustration-aggression theory regards aggression is inevitable part of life an is looking for constructive ways to release it (very much Freudian catharsis) because the process of reducing frustration is unrealistic, but the social learning theory is looking for ways to avoid learning aggressive behavior. The frustration-aggression theory however faces the criticism that frustration does not always lead to aggressive behavior, and vice versa, that aggressive behavior does not necessarily have to be triggered by frustration. This could be countered by stating that the unobservable 'mental aggression' such as aggressive fantasy does not have to be physically manifested and therefore remains unobserved, and that frustration is very hard to define and even harder to determine whether or not it took place. To fully answer whether there are innate factors leading to aggressive behavior or not, there is a need to rely on further, mainly physiological research, because this is the only area in which clear evidence for innate causes of aggression could be provided, and therefore the only area where there could be the main difference between the two theories clearly evaluated. Graded a 6, no major flaws ...read more.

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