Human Aggression is not something that is uncommon. We see people fight, both verbally and physically, almost everyday. These fights can start off as something small and insignificant, but can quickly escalate into something much more serious, and at times, even dangerous. Aggression is seen not only in adults, but in children as well. Kids from a young age start showing animalistic forms of aggression that need to be honed to make sure that it is expressed in a way that is socially acceptable.
BUT WHAT IS AGGRESSION?
Aggression, an intentional action that is aimed at causing physical or psychological harm to others, has deep roots in biological causes as well as social-learning factors. Aggression isn’t something that is just limited to humans- we see it in animals of all shapes and sizes. It is a very animalistic act of behavior that people may or may not have any control over. Although sometimes we do see planned acts of violence in people with psychopathic dispositions, most one-time acts of aggression are due to loss of control, lack of inhibition, low serotonin levels and nonfunctional or damaged prefrontal cortex.
WHAT ARE THE FACTORS CAUSING AGGRESSION?
In the Science of Violence, Global Warming and Violent Behaviour, and A Psychological perspective on Police Violence, we can read detailed information on the biological factors that make criminals commit acts of violence. But, while these sources emphasized on genetic and biological factors, there is a lot of evidence that shows that this expression of primal emotions of rage and aggression can also be brought about by social learning and situational factors. Albert Bandura’s Bobo Doll experiment provides insight into how children, from a young age, pick up on the ways of expressing aggression by just seeing it once. Research on the influence of violent TV shows and video games also give some information on how children perceive reality. If they are unable to differentiate between virtual reality and physical reality, they could grow up with having problems in inhibiting aggression. Here’s a video on the BoBo Doll experiment:
THE ROLE OF SITUATIONAL FACTORS
Situational factors also play a huge role when it comes to people acting on their aggressive, animalistic instincts. The article on global warming and vilolent behaviour summarized how it could not only have an effect on the planet, but also on the psychological health of the people. Extreme cold or heat could have a huge impact on people’s ability to restrain themselves, especially because they are experiencing discomfort and mental/physical fatigue which makes them perceive even neutral situations as potentially hostile or dangerous.
ALCOHOL OFTEN LEADS TO AGGRESSION
Alcohol and steroids make up one of the main causes of violent crimes. One of the main reasons for this is because it reduces social inhibitions, making people more impulsive and inhibits clear thinking. Other reasons include the “think drink” effect where people expect alcohol to help them release pent up aggression. These expectations drive people to commit crimes while being drunk, whether or not they are actually intoxicated.
DEALING WITH AGGRESSION
A way of dealing with aggression and crime could be through punishments, rewarding good behavior and building empathy. Of course, interventions promoting these ideologies can only take us so far in controlling crimes and reforming criminals. It only addresses and helps those who committed or are likely to commit acts of violence due to social learning or situational factors. However, for people with biological and genetic predispositions toward aggression, it is much harder to figure out an effective method of intervention. Ensuring that they receive proper health care, have a good, non-abusive family and good education could prevent the trigger of violent impulses, but it is definitely something that is difficult to enforce. Hopefully, progress in the fields of neuropsychology and neurobiology could lead to a more efficient and effective solution to the problem.