Aggression: A Social Psychological Analysis

Aggression: A Social Psychological Analysis

Aggression: A Social Psychological Analysis

Aggression: A Social Psychological Analysis

Excerpt

As indicated in the title, this book will present a social psychological analysis of aggressive behavior. The intended meaning of the phrase "social psychological" should be clear so the reader can have some idea of the scope of the following discussion. Expectations for a work of this sort are bound to vary. Hostile behavior is all too familiar to every one of us, but we do not employ the same theories or conceptions in trying to understand such actions, and our needs in dealing with aggression are not the same. For many reasons, then, the considerations that are important to one reader are not necessarily significant for another.

The emphasis here will be on the actions of the individuals in social (i.e., interpersonal) settings. Social psychology is often defined as the study of human behavior in response to stimuli associated with other people. However, although the present focus is on factors governing hostility in human beings, some of the information pertaining to these determinants comes from research with animals. These latter investigations will be described briefly, along with the more usual (for social psychology) studies employing children, adolescents, college sophomores, and older adults. Animal research can contribute a great deal to our knowledge of the origin and course of aggression in the individual human being. Surely at least some of man's emotional reactions stem from his biological heritage (cf., Hebb & Thompson, 1954; Freud, 1959d; Scott, 1958).

But it is necessary, of course, to go well beyond these animal investigations. Man, possessing language, is greatly susceptible to symbolic influences. He can inhibit his aggressive tendencies when overt hostility would be a serious departure from his own internalized moral code and/or the behavioral standards of other people important to him. He also engages in aggressive actions in order to win the approval of others. Comprehensive analyses of aggression obviously must include consideration of these social determinants of behavior. The findings of social . . .

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