Discuss Explanations of Institutional Aggression

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Discuss Explanations of institutional aggression

Institutional aggression is a form of aggression that involves the behaviour of those people in institutions such as the police, security services and the military. Explanations of institutional aggression usually consider two different forces, Dispositional factors which can be explained though the importation model and situational factors which is explained through the deprivation model.

Zimbardo’s prison study highlights the strength of situational forces influencing aggression. This is when anti-social behaviour is shown due to the environment surrounding them. In Zimbardo’s study, guards subjected prisoners to solidarity confinement, humiliation and removed them from basic human rights. In response, prisoners went on hunger strikes, rebelled and showed aggression towards guards. All participants were tested and were found to have no anti-social behaviour which means results from this study are highly in favour that aggression can stem from the environment cues.

Further support was conducted by Paterline et al who argued that prisoner’s aggression is the product of stressful environments of the institution rather than the individual.

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Zimbardo termed this the ‘Lucifer Effect’ which refers to the power of the situation to make ordinary people act in aggressive ways. The situation may result in an increase in aggression through a change of power and status of those in the institute, feelings of helplessness in the victims of violence and deindividuation of both parties.

This is similar to the Deprivation model which suggests that aggression can occur due to lack of freedom, control, privacy and security. It can be used to explain why prions are aggressive environments, as inmates are also deprived of heterosexual relationships. Inmate’s then ...

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