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

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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.

Research evidence supports the idea of Deindividuation. Zimbardo found, in a replication of Milgram’s shock study, that hooded and anonymous, and hence deindividuated, participants were more likely to shock other participants than those who were identifiable. This suggests that anonymity would appear to contribute to aggressive behaviour. However, it was suggested that the wearing of white hoods by the participants and the subsequent association with the Ku Klux Klan may have affected the intensity of the shocks given, rather than the anonymity of the participants.

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Deindividuation theory has also been supported by different cultures in a study by Watson. A cross-cultural study was conducted and found that warriors who disguised their appearance tended to be more aggressive, suggesting that deindividuation effects are universal. This research was supported by Zimbardo’s Stanford prison experiment where the guards wore military styles uniforms and silver reflector sunglasses, making eye contact impossible. It was thought that this disguised appearances and deindividuation was what caused the guards to show aggressive behaviour. Also during this experiment prisoners were dehumanised and thus deindividuated by the clothes they wore and being addressed only by ...

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