Neural and Hormonal Causes of Aggression

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Neural and Hormonal

There is a long tradition into the neural and hormonal mechanisms that underline aggressive behaviour. Much of the early research was conducted on animals and provided a valuable explanation to aggression. Now, there are new technologies that have aloud this to be extended into work with humans.

Hormones such as testosterone is thought to influence aggression due to its activity in the brain areas involved in controlling aggression. Young et al injected pregnant monkeys with testosterone and found that if the offspring were female, they would then act like a male monkeys by play fighting as they grew up. They then concluded that testosterone is a main factor in the cause of aggression which supports the approach by saying there is a hormonal cause.

Research by Wagner et al supports findings by Young et al. They found if a male mouse was castrated, its levels of aggression dropped. But when the mouse was injected with testosterone, its aggression levels rise again proving testosterone can be a cause for aggression.    

A strength of using animal to investigate the relationship between aggression and testosterone is the variables have been directly manipulated by the investigator which shows a direct effect. This is good because we can then conclude that levels of testosterone can effect aggression.  

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However, these studies are conducted on animals and is reductionistic. This is because research is over simplified as they are comparing animals to humans which can be criticised for lacking validity. But humans are more complex and cannot be generalised with animal studies.

Nevertheless, similar findings were collected from research on human aggression. Lindman found that young males who behaved aggressively when drunk had higher levels of testosterone than those who didn’t act aggressively. These findings show that testosterone has a direct link with aggression, although this research doesn’t provide us with a causal relationship because there are other ...

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