Agression Aggression Aggression is a critical part of animal existence, which is an inherent driving force to humans, as we, too, are animals. The source of aggression within humans is a long summative list, but before trying to understand its source one must apply a working definition of aggression. Aggressive behavior is defined by Encyclopedia Britannica as any action of an animal that serves to injure an opponent or prey animal or to cause an opponent to retreat. (7) David G. Myers states that aggression is any physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt or destroy.(9) There are many types of aggressive behaviors, which can be differentiated from the factual act to the hidden motives. For example, an aggressive behavior can be negative or positive, accidental or intended, and physical or mental.

Aggression can take numerous forms, the act of hitting a wall to release aggression has some of the same roots as playing football and enjoying hitting the quarterback. A child yelling at his parents could be equated, in its aggressiveness, with hitting ones horn when one is cut off on 495. Aggression is also a relative construct. What might seem like a terribly aggressive act to one person, most often the victim, might seem like an induced response to the perpetrator.(3) Psychologist Arlene Stillwell performed an experiment where she assigned ordinary college students at random to play the role of a victim or a perpetrator in a small incident. Then she asked the students to describe the situation that had just transpired. What she found was that both victims and perpetrators deformed the truth equally to present their sides in a better light.

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Victims would dwell on their lasting traumas from the incident while the perpetrator might make the act seem like a one-time action provoked by insurmountable circumstances. The resulting implication is that aggression is in the eye of the beholder.(3) Due to its relative nature aggression is extremely hard to isolate and study. Some acts are very easy to categorize as aggressive, a first degree murder or first degree rape, but is negligent manslaughter aggressive? The mere act of not shoveling ones sidewalk might have the same effect as a cold-blooded murder but is it an aggressive act? For the purposes of this paper aggression will be related to the four conditions presented by Gerda Siann. They are as follows; 1. The person carrying out that behavior, the aggressor, does so with intention.

2. The behavior is taking place within an interpersonal situation which is characterized by an accumulated distress or a opposition. 3. The aggressor intends by the behavior in question to gain a greater advantage than the person on the other side of the aggression. 4.

The aggressor carrying out the behavior has either provoked the situation or moved the conflict unto a higher degree of strength.(11) Aggression has numerous reasons and consequences both must be analyzed in order to see from whence it arises. An explicit example of the strength of both nature and nurture concerning aggression is the life of Kody Scott, a young gang member of California. He was already a gang member in middle school, and would not have been had the gang not already been in place when he graduated from elementary school thus environments role in aggressive behavior, but one fateful day when he stole a car to get to the hospital for the birth of his first child, he intentionally detoured through the neighborhood of a rival gang and killed a rival gang member. The detour he deliberately took was a conscious decision and not provoked by the environment hence natures toll on his aggressive act.(3) Aggression is usually associated with negative aspects of the world.(3) This is not necessarily true, though. Negativity is but half of the nature of aggression. Aggression can have very positive results.

For example, a non-aggressive hockey player gets thrown around and will therefore not perform very well in an bellicose sport. On the other hand an aggressive player will not allow himself to be thrown around like the aforementioned player and will most likely win the small battles just based on the mentality of the player.(5) Another example of positive aspects of aggression might be a persons sexual aggressiveness might allow them to obtain a date to prom without any problem, whereas anyone much less aggressive person would be passive and wait for the person to approach them. One good aspects of aggressiveness might be ambitiousness or assertiveness, an aggressive person is more likely to get what they need done as opposed to the inactive person. Outgoing, a socially positive trait is nothing more than aggressiveness personified. A female high school senior might be more successful and be rewarded (by being voted for Best Personality in the MOCK awards) for being socially aggressive outgoing. Aggression can also be characterized by mentality. Where one hurts someone out of rage or whether one thinks of numerous ways of hurting someone, aggression still is present in both situations. The thoughts of a people, for example the Germans in World War Two can be just as aggressive as the act as the systematic murder of the Jewish community.(8) Aggression in this case was an extreme example of a spiraling staircase. The Nazi party did not begin a process of systematic murder at the beginning of their rule, first they instituted a hate as scapegoats toward the Jews, they then removed some luxuries that the Jews had, then they removed citizenship, followed by imprisonment, then to slave labor, and lastly the Final Solution was implemented.

The thoughts of hatred at the beginning of the platform was just as dangerous and aggressive as the gas chambers of late WWII. These aggressive feelings allowed the Germans to desensitize each other to a point of genocide.(11) By solely disliking someone they looked the other way when the book burning began, then it was just a small step to the first pogrom, then they just accepted the de-humanization of Jews, and this was followed by an escalating progress which led eventually to the inhumane murder of close to six million human lives. Along with these pure feelings of anger and hatred aggressionthe Germans also tried to scapegoat and thereby provide catharsis for themselves by blaming the downfall of their troubles on the Jewish community. This displacement somehow released pent up rage that had been present for numerous years of misery for the Germans.(3, Handler) Thus thoughts also cause aggression or are manifestations of the pure aggression. The most obvious example of aggression is killing, for that reason the example for this paper will be the untimely death of people as caused by others.

From very young ages death permeates into all of our lives. From having a loved grandparents passing away to the learning how to read the newspaper and reading about terrible deaths daily, if not more often. One strong argument supports that people have built-in aggression. Much like the theories of Freud, that people have instinctual aggression, whether sexual or violent, a multitude of scientists and psychologists believe that biology is crucial in the development of aggression.(9) For example aggression has been correlated numerous times in a significant way with testosterone.(1) One psychologist, Jack Hokanson, has tracked catharsis theories for a number of years. One experiment performed by this man seemed to point that in order to reduce violence or aggression men would react angrily, whereas women would react in a friendly manner when presented with aggressive behaviors.(2) The variable that was tested here were the differences in the genders which proved to be quite polar, for the men were belligerent and the women were almost uniformly kind.(12) Differences in physical strength also have provided for differences in aggression levels between the two sexes.

Since men are physically built stronger than women they are more likely to become aggressive than are women who are not, in general, as physically strong. Neurotransmitters seem to play a very important part in the aggressive nature of mammals. As tested in monkeys, who have matching 99 percent of their genes with humans, it has been found that hyper-aggressive or antisocial monkeys have a deficit of the neurotransmitter serotonin. As an interesting side note the leaders, who have a different type of aggression assertionhave higher levels of this same chemical.(1) In this same study the monkeys seemed to have very predictable heredity patterns, In which the monkeys were found to easily exhibit the same behavior as the father. This was also found to be true in men who have been discharged from the Marines for excessive violence, as well as in criminals in Finland who committed acts of wanton violence.(8) Seratonin has also found to be an inhibiting factor concerning aggression. A situation or condition that reduces seratonin levels is among drugs, hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a condition of lowered blood sugar, certain diets can cause or inhibit the onset of this condition, thus directly affecting genetically the aggressive behavior of a person.(12) On the topic of diets an correlation has been found with the corn (a food that decreases the levels of seratonin in the brain) intake of a country and the homicide rates, an obviously aggressive marker.(10) Another chemical in the human machine that causes or has been related to has been the anger hormone adrenaline and its counterpart noradrenaline.

This is inherent in the flight or fight reflex, in which fighting is usually prepared by a flush of adrenaline into the system, and anger/aggression are integral parts of it.(12) Stanley Hall found that anger has numerous different effects on the human body, depending on the person. Aggression can cause either an increase or a decrease in heart rate depending on the anger causing stimulus.(12) For example, a psychologist named Albert F. Ax found that his test subjects were experiencing the slowing of their hearts because they were concentrating too hard on the event supposed to turn them aggressive, in the case of his experiment a mugger.(12) Another study done by a man named Eron in 1987, showed that most children, who when described by their peers as having high levels of aggression, are three times as likely to have a criminal conviction by the age of 30 than those children who were rated as having high levels of pro-social behavior.(10) That study shows the apparent stability, or lack of change, in the behavior of people thereby fueling the genetic, or nature, side of the nature versus nurture war that is currently being fought. Epilepsy has also been affiliated with aggressive behavior or at least with outbursts of it. A very strong correlation has been made between the focus of epileptic discharges being in the temporal lobe of the brain and discharges of violent and aggressive behavior. (1) That condition can be helped by psychosurgery but is not used as common as possible because the biological age group who most is affected by this circumstance are juveniles or violent offenders who are not capable of giving unbiased, informed consent to irreversible procedures.

Furthermore, evidence liking antisocial conductaggressionwith abnormal electrical activity in the temporal lobes. Using a electroencephalogram (EEG) to study these waves of electricity in the temporal lobe of sufferers of a sociopath complex, psychologists have surmised that the aggressive personality disorders are related to a delay of maturation in these areas of the brain, this could be cause by a innumerable amount of factors like fetal infection, brain trauma, or lack of proper nutrients in diet.(1) In 1969 a psychologist by the name of Williams used an EEG on 333 men convicted of crimes and found that out of the 206 men who had a history of crimes has a disruption, or dysrhythmias, in the temporal lobes. Following the genetic track of aggression is the undeniable fact that aggressive behavior also declines sharply with age.(10) Another physiological factor that might affect the aggressiveness and even violence level of a person is that of cerebral trauma, especially diseases. These people who exhibit an impairment of the control systems of the brain also have been known to occasionally suffer from persistent brain immaturity, brain damage, or toxic impairment of the brain. There has also been presented the single-gene notion about psychopath or sociopath behavior. Researchers have found that significant number of prisoners have an extra sex chromosomes, for example an XXY or XYY.(12) Their being in jail does not seem to be the root of their problem but rather it seems to stem from their low level of intelligence, which is inherently a genetically influence aspect, according to Robert A. Baron.(10) In post-war studies, studies of the most aggressive of all activities, there have been similarities found with soldier.

For example several senior U.S. Air Force officers have stated that when the Air Force tried to pre-select fighter pilots after world war two the only common denominator between their WWII aces was that they had all been involved …


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