WHY ARE INDIVIDUALS AGGRESSIVE?
Aggression is difficult to define, it is a complex phenomenon, and depending upon
the context the term can be made to carry either positive or negative connotations,
it can be attacking behaviour that may be either self-protective and self-assertive
or to the infliction of injury toward oneself or toward others, to the total
destruction of others. Is aggression biological determined or the product of
learning and environmental influences.?
This essay, will consider instinctive
theory, the frustration - aggression hypothesis, and social learning theory.
should then be possible to draw a conclusion to see if any or all of the theories
discussed are the cause of aggression. Brain disorders, hormonal and chemical
imbalances, environmental factors, such as heat, noise, air pollution and
overcrowding, although contribute to the causes of aggression will not be discussed
during the course of this essay.
No universally adopted definition of aggression
exists, for the purpose of this discussion, the definition of Gross will be used.
Gross defines aggression as :-
"The intentional infliction of some form of harm on others"
(Gross page 444)
Freud proposed that aggression is an instinctive biological urge.
this instinct, is made up of the libido (pleasure) and "Thanatos" (the death
This basic instinct is present in the Id from birth, at first the
aggression is relatively uncontrolled, but with the development of the Ego and
superego it becomes channelled into socially acceptable behaviour
impulses are not released periodically in safe ways, they soon reach dangerous
levels capable of producing acts of violence.
Sometimes it is released in the form
of physical or verbal abuse against another, (where the anger is displaced onto
Sometimes the aggressive impulse is turned inward and produces self -
punishment action, even suicide.
The best that can be hoped for, according to
Freud, is that aggressive impulses will be "channelled into socially acceptable
forms." such as football, sport etc.
(Bernstein et al page 715).
theory does not explain why some people are aggressive and others are not, and if
aggression is dissipated into sport, why is there football violence and
at other sporting events?
Lorenz, like Freud believed that
aggressive energy builds up in the individual,
and eventually has to be discharged in some way.
is the "fighting instinct" in man, and that man is naturally aggressive. This
instinct developed during the course of evolution because it yielded many benefits,
for example, fighting serves to disperse populations over a wide area, ensuring
maximum use of resources.
"Such behaviour often helps to strengthen genetic make-
up of a species by assuring that only the strongest individuals manage to
reproduce", ( Baron/Byrne page 328)
This fighting instinct is both present in man
and that aggression in animals is do with 'Ritualization and