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Discuss The Various Theoretical Perspectives On Aggression, Including The Research Supporting And Refuting These Perspectives.

2954 words - 12 pages

"Through centuries of experience, humans learned that aggressive behaviour enabled them to obtain material goods, land, and treasures; to protect property and family; and to gain prestige, status, and power." (Bartol & Bartol 2004, P.237) Some writers argue that aggression has been involved in helping people survive, however, it is undeniable that it is the fundamental component in violent crime. In other words, aggressive behaviour is at the root of various social and individual problems.In this essay, we will explore a number of issues: What are the different forms of human aggression? Why do human beings frequently engage in dangerous acts of aggression? Are these acts of aggression learned, elicited, and biological or some combination of these characteristics? Are there any critiques of these approaches? If yes, what are they?Defining AggressionPsychology traditionally has defined aggression as behaviour against another that intentionally inflicts harm. Such behaviour can be in the form of physical attack against one another, or verbal abuse, such as spreading malicious gossip. Although this definition seems adequate for many applications, it is not precise enough for the comprehensive understanding of aggressive behaviour.Feshbach first portrays two distinct types of aggression, hostile and instrumental. They are distinguished by their goals, or rewards they offer the perpetrator. Hostile aggression is driven by anger (e.g. real or perceived insults, physical attacks or one's own failure) and performed as an end in itself. The goal of the aggressor is to make a victim suffer. Most criminal homicides, rapes and other violent crimes directed at harming the victim are precipitated by hostile aggression.In contrast, instrumental aggression is driven by the desire or competition for rewards, which can be object or status, possessed by another person (e.g. jewelry, money, territory). This may also be motivated by non-injurious goals, such as coercion and the maintenance of self-esteem. In the case of coercion, injury may be delivered in order to influence another person to do what they want. Some children use various aversive behaviours, for instance, hitting and teasing, in order to control family members. They are reinforced when the victims do what they want. Moreover, aggression can strengthen or maintain self-esteem if they receive favorable response after performing such behaviour.Although the major motivation of instrumental aggression is economic gain - not intently harming anyone, they may find it necessary to use violence if there is someone or something interfering with the perpetrator's objective. In that sense, even though a robbery may lead to murder, it is still represented as instrumental aggression.Theoretical Perspectives on AggressionIn studying these types of aggression, a number of theoretical perspectives which have sharply contrasting views concerning the nature of aggression, the factors influencing its occurrence, and...

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