Kinds of Aggressive Behavior: Part 3 of 3

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As in other forms of operant conditioning the reinforcement for aggressive behavior need not follow every response. Once the behavior is learned an occasional reward (or punishment) is enough to maintain it. This is particularly clear in what is known as obedient aggression. A guard dog that attacks on command or a person who harms someone because he or she is “ordered” to do so, is committing obedient aggression.

5. Territorial aggression. This category of behavior has been studied more thoroughly by ethologists (such as Konrad Lorenz, 1966) than by psychologists. Animals of many different species will stake out a territory, frequently mark it in some way (by spraying the boundaries with urine, for instance), and then threaten to attack any unfamiliar member of its species that intrudes within its borders. Note that this behavior is confined to the territory itself: If the animal is taken out of its own territory, its territorial aggressiveness vanishes Some people see parallels in human territorial conflict.

6. Altruistic aggression. The aggressiveness of a bird or mammal guarding its young, or of a ”soldier” bee or ant defending its hive or nest, are examples of altruistic aggression. Moyer (1976) has used the term maternal aggression to describe the fierce behavior of a female mammal whose nestful of pups is threatened. In some species, however-notably
humans-the same kind of behavior may be shown by the father, or even by unrelated individuals.

7. Intermale aggression. In many species the normal reaction of a full-grown male to another unfamiliar adult male is a hostile one. Frequently quently the animal will attack without provocation. This behavior is distinguished from territorial aggression because it can occur in any location.
Studies of intermale aggression in mice and rats have shown that the stimulus that elicits the attack is the scent of the other male. If the animals’ odors are masked by an artificial scent or if their sense of smell is surgically destroyed, they are unlikely to fight (Ropartz, 1968). Furthermore, in many species such as dogs and wolves (Lorenz, 1966), and even bison (Barash, 1977), the fight will not occur if one animal assumes a stereo- typed position of submissiveness.

The male hormone testosterone is of critical importance in intermale aggression. Immature or castrated animals do not show this behavior but if they are injected with testosterone, the aggressiveness appears (Levy & Kirk, 1953). It is also clear that intermale aggression is closely connected with the competition for females. In species that breed only in certain seasons, notably the hoofed mammals, almost all aggressive behavior takes place during the mating season.

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