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Psychology of Aggression, Notes Chapter 1

by: Tori

Psychology of Aggression, Notes Chapter 1 PSYC 231 - 02

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These are the notes for chapter one: defining and measuring aggression
Psychology of Aggression
Eman Warraich-Gibson
Class Notes
Psychology, AggressionPsychology, Aggression




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Tori on Saturday September 17, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSYC 231 - 02 at Montclair State University taught by Eman Warraich-Gibson in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 109 views. For similar materials see Psychology of Aggression in Psychology (PSYC) at Montclair State University.


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Date Created: 09/17/16
Chapter 1: Defining and Measuring Aggression Introduction Questions  Is aggression always a bad thing or can it also be good? Is there a “healthy” aggression?  Why do some individuals tend to be more aggressive than others?  Why is it a person may remain calm in one situation but fly off the handle in another?  Can spreading rumors be considered aggression? Or is this common behavior?  Can hitting a child be considered aggression? Or is it just part of raising a child?  Is it a form of sexual abuse for a father to take a bath with his 6-year-old daughter? Is the answer different if the daughter is 13-years-old?  Is there a such thing as “positive aggression” that allows a person to be assertive? What is Aggression? 1. Aggression derives from the Latin verb “aggredi” which means “to approach” 2. Basic consensus that aggression is viewed as a form of negative or antisocial behavior a. To qualify as aggression, an intention to inflict harm must be present  Includes behaviors aimed to harm, but do not cause any harm  Includes deliberate neglect or withholding of care  Excludes harm inflicted with target’s consent, such as painful surgery 3. Baron and Richardson came up with the most widely accepted definition of aggression: “any form of behavior directed toward the goal of harming or injuring another living being who is motivated to avoid such treatment” 4. Controversy: should norm violation be considered aggression? a. Self-defense  Demonstrates intention to harm another  Target’s desire to avoid them is present b. Hitting children to discipline  Criteria present, but some agree with it as effective form of child-rearing Types of Aggression (As seen in Table 1.1 of text, page 10) 1. Response Modality a. Verbal – shouting or swearing at someone b. Physical – hitting or shooting someone c. Postural – making threatening gestures d. Relational – giving someone “the silent treatment” 2. Immediacy a. Direct – punching someone in the face b. Indirect – spreading rumors about someone behind their back 3. Response Quality a. Action – forcing another person to engage in unwanted sexual acts b. Failure to act – withholding important information form a colleague at work 4. Visibility a. Overt – humiliating someone in front of others b. Covert – sending threatening text messages 5. Instigation a. Proactive/unprovoked – grabbing a toy from a child b. Reactive/retaliative – yelling at someone after being physically attacked 6. Goal Direction a. Hostile – hitting someone out of anger or frustration b. Instrumental – taking a hostage to secure a ransom; hitting a child in order to change their behavior 7. Type of Harm a. Physical –broken bones b. Psychological – fears and nightmares 8. Duration of Effects a. Transient – minor bruises b. Lasting – long-term inability to form relationships 9. Social Units Involved a. Individuals – intimate partner violence b. Groups – riots and wars How to Measure Aggression 1. Measuring aggression can prove to be challenging since there are not many controlled circumstances where aggression can be studied without a person realizing their actions are being observed, and it could be unethical to create situations where a person is deliberately made angry or a person is put in a potentially harmful situation. 2. Observing aggressive behavior in natural contexts: this is difficult to do because it has to be handled very gently. An observer cannot allow people to realize they are being recorded because there is a chance that the person will adjust their behavior in order to prevent being seen acting socially undesirable. a. Naturalistic observation – recording the type and frequency of aggression in natural settings, where trained observers are positioned to record certain behaviors  Frequency of “personal violations” such as verbal insults, in a bar setting  Frequency of behaviors, such as hitting, teasing, and excluding classmates recorded on a school playground b. Field experiments – similar to naturalistic observation, but variables are manipulated to provoke aggression  Team of 5 graders told to wear matching uniforms when other team was wearing regular clothes. Observers found that the uniformed team committed more aggressive acts than the other team because the uniforms provided a sense of anonymity  Actor in a car reacting very slowly to a green light in order to see how aggressive the drivers behind this car would become and aggressive behaviors recorded by an observer positioned nearby 3. Observing aggressive behavior in the laboratory: experiments done in a laboratory setting can be created so that respondents are exposed to a situation with the purpose of provoking aggressive responses, participants can be randomly assigned, and the participants do not have a chance to cause any real harm to another person a. Teacher-learner paradigm – uses the set-up of a learning experiment where one person adopts the teacher role and another adopts the student role.  Famous Milgram experiment, where the “teacher” was told to administer shocks for every wrong answer the “student” gave. Participants were found to administer shocks even though they were labeled “fatal.” b. Essay evaluation paradigm – Participants are asked to rate a written solution to a problem-solving task.  Participants are asked to come up with a solution to a problem and then asked to rate another persons’ solution measured in electric shocks. If they feel the solution is not going to work, they administer more shocks. An actor would pretend their solution was a certain way; the more shocks the actor administered (meaning the participant’s solution was not a smart one), the more shocks the participant would choose to administer, regardless of the actor’s written solution. In other words, if an actor was made to act like they thought negatively of the participant’s solution, the participant would demonstrate their aggression towards that in electric shocks, rather than basing the shocks on the actor’s response. c. Competitive reaction time paradigm – leads participants to believe they are engaging in a competitive reaction time task with another participant.  A visual cue would pop up on a screen and the person who responded fastest and pressed the correct button in response would be the winner of the trial. The victor would then decide a punishment for their opponent which demonstrated their aggression against their opponent. d. Hot sauce paradigm – how much hot sauce a person wants to give to another participant that allegedly dislikes spicy food.  Participants would give less hot sauce to those that chose them as a partner, and a significantly larger amount to someone who tried to reject them as their partner. e. Critique of laboratory measures – although laboratory experiments have generated most of the knowledge we have today on aggressive behavior, there are still many controversial aspects debated.  In the teacher-learner paradigm, the “teachers” could possibly just be administering shocks for the sake of the “students” learning.  Experimental procedures are said to have high construct validity, but lacks external validity. In other words, it is proven to measure aggression very well, but the data cannot often be applied to real world behaviors. 4. Collecting reports of aggressive behavior: surveys are less controversial than experimental methods of measurement. a. Self-reports of aggressive behavior – participants are asked to answer questions on their own behavior. Although this can be biased because people may not want to admit undesirable behaviors. b. Parent or teacher reports of aggressive behavior – both are particularly useful for studying young children. c. Peer nominations – peers are asked to identify classmates who demonstrate unjustified aggression, such as bullying. d. Measures of aggressive affect: anger and hostility – how researchers study the two most common affective states relating to aggression. e. Measure of aggressive cognitions: the Implicit Association Test (IAT) – an assessment where aggressive behaviors cannot easily be discerned so that self- reporters will not feel the need to change their answers to seem socially desirable. f. Projective techniques – participants are asked to generate a response for ambiguous material and then the responses are scored. 5. Using official records: useful, but limited to whatever has been recorded, usually not descriptive about emotions or conditions on that day, such as the temperature, which could be useful for determining if heat and humidity increase aggressive acts. a. Crime statistics – official record of reported crime that are compiled by most countries, useful when studying criminal forms of aggression.


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