The Psychology of Group Aggression

By Arnold P. Goldstein | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
AGGRESSION-RELEVANT GROUP DYNAMICS

Over the past 75 years, a substantial wealth of literature has grown dealing with the structure and functioning of human groups. Theory, research findings, and creative speculation are its diverse formats. Its specific contents are numerous and varied, and include both an array of intragroup concerns (e.g., cohesiveness, leadership, performance), and topics focused upon between-group phenomena (e.g., conflict, cooperation, aggression). The generators of this knowledge base are largely social psychologists, but also include sociologists, criminologists, mediators, group therapists, group trainers, and professionals from yet other disciplines. The present chapter seeks to summarize those segments of this literature that are of apparent or even possible relevance to group aggression, and to offer it as a pool of information, many of whose particulars we hypothesize to be potentially relevant to the main concerns of this book. It is our contention, and already some of our experience, that viewing the chief topics constituting the group aggression theme—e.g., bullying, gang violence, riots—through the lenses of the group dynamics literature can aid greatly both in understanding their source and substance, and in reducing their frequency and intensity.

As noted, I describe and examine this literature in the present chapter. Where and when possible, in subsequent chapters I seek to draw upon it as a template clarifying better our understanding of the structure and processes involved when groups either perpetrate or are the targets of aggression by multiple others. Our template applying effort is, however, but a mere beginning. We hope that by thusly providing and utilizing the accumulated group dynamics literature, others will similarly be encouraged to do so.


THEORIES OF GROUP DEVELOPMENT AND BEHAVIOR

Realistic Conflict Theory

Competition between groups in the real world—nations, tribes, athletic teams, gangs, ethnic groups, and others—is a pervasive and enduring phenomenon, a phenomenon of major social and political salience and significance. As Forsyth (1983) observes:

-3-

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The Psychology of Group Aggression
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Wiley Series in Forensic Clinical Psychology vi
  • Contents vii
  • About the Author ix
  • Series Editors' Preface x
  • References xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Part I - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Aggression-Relevant Group Dynamics 3
  • Part II - Forms and Formulations 37
  • Chapter 2 - Low-Level Aggression 39
  • Chapter 3 - Bullying and Harassment 59
  • Chapter 4 - Delinquent Gangs 77
  • Chapter 5 - The Mob 105
  • Part III - Intervention 121
  • Chapter 6 - Established and Emerging Interventions 123
  • References 158
  • Index 187
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