Influences on Aggression

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Aggression can be defined as physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt someone. This definition covers two distinct types of aggression; hostile aggression and instrumental aggression. Hostile aggression which often driven by anger, takes a more serious form of behavior, which usually intends to injure people. Instrumental aggression on the other hand, is using aggression as a means to some other end. Under what conditions do we aggress? Based on researches conducted, surveys and studies, sociologist have found that pain, heat, crowding and media influences can provoke individuals to aggress.

The recipe for aggression often includes some type of aversive incidents; pain uncomfortable heat, an attack, or overcrowding. Research found that pain can cause us to become aggressive. Pain heightens aggressiveness in humans. It not only hurts, but it can also incite an emotional outburst.

Aggressive behavior has been linked to heat also. Temporary climate variations can affect behavior as well as our performance at a given time and place. A study found that students who answered their examination papers in an uncomfortably hot room with over 90F got poorer results than the students who did so in a room with a normal temperature. In addition, people may be more irritable and thus act aggressively in hot, summer and sticky weather. For example, riots occurring in the US were more likely on hot than cool days.

Overcrowding is conducive to aggression too. Crowding is a subjective feeling of having not enough space at a given time. Imagine if we are trapped in slow-moving traffic or having to share a small college dorm with ten other people. In a larger scale, people who live in crowded cities may act more aggressive. Think about people living in crowded and packed area like in Bombay, India or in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The increase in reported juvenile crime has made us wonder might the surging can be attribute to media’s increasing modeling of violent and sexuality? Pornography may contribute to men’s aggression toward women. The rate of reported rapes sharply increased as pornography becomes easily accessible since the wide use of the Internet.

Watching violent movies can unleash human’s aggressiveness urges. The more violent the content of the TV, the more aggressive the person could become. A survey found that 9 out 10 convicts admitted that they learned new criminal tricks from watching crime programs on the television.

Aversive experiences; pain, heat, crowding and media influences heighten aggressiveness in humans. Stress, depression, and dejection increase the likelihood of hostile aggressive behavior.


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