The Nature Of Aggression (Or Is It Nurture?)

1439 words - 6 pages

The Nature of Aggression (or is it Nurture?)

Every night on the news there are reports about murders, wars, and rapes. But the news isn't the only place where people encounter violent or aggressive behavior. Driving home from work, people get cut off and cussed at on a daily basis. At school, children fight over who will be the first in the lunch line. On the street, people get pushed out of the way if they are not walking fast enough. The list could go on and on and on. The point is that humans exhibit aggressive behavior on a regular basis. However, does anyone know why people display these behaviors? Why do certain people seem more aggressive? Is there just one thing that controls when and how aggressive someone becomes? These are all questions that researchers have been addressing for many years. In fact there has been quite a debate over what causes people to be aggressive. However, in order to try to understand where aggression may stem from, you must understand how aggression is defined as well as all of the possibilities that may cause it.

Aggression is an action. It is intended to harm someone. It can be a verbal attack--insults, threats, sarcasm, or attributing nasty motives to them--or a physical punishment or restriction (1). Aggression also seems to be a way of maintaining social order among many species. Animals compete with each other over food, mates, and dwelling spaces, often showing aggression and occurring among virtually all vertebrate species, including humans. However, if aggression is an effective way of maintaining social order, reckless violence appears to be a poor survival mechanism. Nevertheless, this trait has not been wiped out. Since it hasn't disappeared, it is logical that researchers have tried to understand the nature of this behavior. In doing this, there has been an ongoing argument of what its source is.

The nature vs. nurture topic has been a continuing debate for many aspects of human behavior, including aggression. There have been many studies indicating that chemical relationships between serotonin, testosterone, and frontal lobe brain chemistry may play a key role in determining aggressive behavior, while other studies have explored environmental and societal factors that have been said to control patterns in human aggression.

The argument for nature surrounds the possible biological reasons for why human aggression is exhibited. The reasons for why there is aggressive behavior in humans include a range of hypotheses. Aggression may have a chemical, hormonal, or genetic basis. Research has shown that stimulation of certain parts of animals' brains leads to aggression. Stimulation of other parts stops aggression (1). Some researches believe that it stems from low levels of serotonin. Terrie Moffitt and colleagues studied the blood serotonin levels of 781 21-year-old men and women. The researchers report that "in this study, elevated whole blood serotonin was characteristic of violent men."...

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