Position Paper: Aggression

891 words - 4 pages

Physical assault and aggression is the second leading cause of death among 14 to 17 year olds, next to vehicular accidents (Loeber). But why are humans so aggressive in the first place? There are two sides of the debate: Nature, and Nurture. Some say that it’s human nature, genetics that cause most behaviors, while others say that we act as we learned during childhood. This argument applies to aggression as well. Aggression is mainly caused by things during childhood and adolescence where people learn from various sources about aggression, although, human psychology plays a slight factor.
But, what is aggression in the first place? Aggression is a behavior that causes or intends to cause harm to others. Accidental harm does not count as aggression, because the perpetrator did not intentionally mean to hurt the victim. Additionally, there are two types: reactive, and instrumental. Reactive aggression is aggression that is a response to an event. Instrumental aggression is used as a means to an end, a planned aggression to achieve a desired result, whether physical, mental, or emotional (Anderson 27-51). The two sides of the cause of aggression comes down to nature versus nurture. Some claim that aggression is learned, while others claim it is genetic (Ferguson). The former is more plausible, though the second should not be discounted.
The “Blank Slate” or tabula rasa theory states that humans are an empty slate to be filled with knowledge and behavior at birth (Locke). Humans are innately peaceful, and only learn how to hate and manipulate through society (Rousseau). Therefore, aggression is learned, not innately present. These theories have been accepted by many people, and influences how we teach children today. Applied to aggression, it has given rise to different but similar theories, such as script theory, and social interaction theory. Script theory is the theory that, as children, when violent acts are seen, those actions act as a “script” in the future as a behavioral guide (Anderson). An example is if a child sees a man upset and attack someone insulting them, they may believe aggression can be used against others. The social interaction theory is the theory that aggression is used as an adverse social influence, a decision for a what’s perceived as a more positive outcome (Tedeschi & Felson 1994). An example of this would be blackmailing someone to get them to do something for you.
These theories of aggression are the most plausible because they account for both types of aggression, reactive and instrumental. People learn how to act from society, and use what is believed to be the most efficient way to achieve desired results. This can be a reaction to coerce someone into stopping an action, or instrumental, to force one to do something. Cues from the past, such as seeing a weapon that has been seen countless...

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