Kinds of Aggressive Behavior: Part 1 of 3

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The term aggression refers to the kinds of behavior that lead to the damage or destruction of something-either another organism or an inanimate object. (In humans, aggression also may refer to pain-inflicting behaviors.) A coyote killing a lamb, a stallion attacking another stallion, a cat slashing out at a dog, a human destroying an automobile with a sledgehammer-all these actions fall under the definition of aggression. Clearly we are not referring to a single type of behavior: There are many different kinds of aggressive responses. and they are elicited by a wide variety of internal and external stimuli (Moyer, 1976).

Seven categories of aggressive behavior are described below, It should be noted, however, that it is not always possible to distinguish these types of behavior in practice, because they overlap. A given aggressive act may be the result of two or three factors acing together.

1. Angry aggression. This is the classical variety the type most people think of when they hear the word “aggression.” It is generally accompanied by the signs of emotional arousal (see the section on emotion in the next chapter) arid is often produced by pain or frustration. For example, two rats put together in a cage and given brief, intermittent electric shocks will attack each other when the shock comes on, Under these circumstances a rat will even attack a doll or a stuffed animal if another rat is not available.

A monkey or a mouse whose tail is pinched will bite its tormentor or (if that is impossible) any other nearby object. Frustration of goal-directed behavior-for example, preventing a hungry animal from reaching a food reward that it has worked for-generally produces an aggressive response. A pigeon that has been caught to peck a key to obtain grain will attack another pigeon if the grain is withheld (Azrin, Hutchinson, & Hake, 1965). However frustration does not invariably have this kind of effect. A theory relating frustration to aggression, as well as other theories of the origins of human aggressive behavior.

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