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The Evolution Of Aggression Theory Essay

1245 words - 5 pages

Psychology has been commonly considered the study of the mind and thought processes that lead to behaviors. Hence, it should be easy to conceive why psychologists undertook the challenge of understanding aggression in youth. In this case, youths will be operationally defined to include children as well as adolescents. Aggression in youths has been a topic of discussion many individuals, parents and psychologists, have tried to characterize and control beginning around the 1950s (1). However, because there was a lack of empirical evidence to support lingering past theories about the origins of aggression and how it should be defined, it was difficult to identify a theory which adequately explained this human condition. Consequently, it was then difficult to develop an approach to extinguish this maladaptive behavior in youth until Albert Bandura applied his Social Learning Theory to instances that could be empirically tested. Although Albert Bandura’s views on Social Learning Theory gained support for providing an adequate framework to the understanding of the exhibition of aggressive behaviors in youths in comparison to past theories, there may be another theoretical explanation that better explains such behaviors.
In order to assess which theories adequately explain aggressive behaviors in youth, it is necessary to identify how past psychologists have defined aggression. Originally, the definition of aggression evolved to fit frustration-aggression theory which was supported by Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, and Sears (1939) (2). According to this model, aggression was simply defined as a learned response to frustrating situations. It would then be necessary to explain that frustration was simply defined as any situation that prevented a goal-response. Therefore, as long as an aggressive response could overcome the frustration caused by the prevention of accomplishing learned or biological goals that brought satisfaction to an individual, then that aggressive behavior would be reinforced. If it failed to overcome the frustration then that aggressive behavior would be extinguished. An example of this theory pertaining to everyday life is the crying responses of children who are uncomfortable or hungry (2). Often times children who feel that they are in a helpless state and cannot obtain food or get comfortable will throw what are known as tantrums that tap into their motor and vocal responses. These responses, later classified as aggressive behaviors, are predecessors to what were once thought to be pointless physical and verbal responses carried out in the stage of infancy such as flailing limbs and crying. Because frustration seems to be an inherent quality of life all infants have the possibility of becoming aggressive children with the development of better motor skills (2). However, Dollard et al (1939) suggested acts perpetrated by children to overcome their frustration cannot be classified as aggressive in nature unless the children...

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