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Unformatted text preview: roduce, whatever genes are linked to aggressive behavior are more likely to be transmitted to subsequent generations.
The sociobiology view has been attacked on numerous grounds. One is that people's capacity to outwit other species, not their aggressiveness, appears to be the dominant factor in human survival. Another is that there is too much variation among people to believe that they are dominated by, or at the mercy of, aggressive impulses.
The Psychodynamic Approach. Theorists adopting the psychodynamic approach hold that inner conflicts are crucial for understanding human behavior, including aggression. Sigmund Freud, for example, believed that aggressive impulses are inevitable reactions to the frustrations of daily life. Children normally desire to vent aggressive impulses on other people, including their parents, because even the most attentive parents cannot gratify all of their demands immediately. Yet children, also fearing their parents' punishment and the loss of parental love, come to repress most aggressive impulses. The Freudian perspective, in a sense: sees us as "steam engines." By holding in rather than venting "steam," we set the stage for future explosions. Pentup aggressive impulses demand outlets. They may be expressed toward parents in indirect ways such as destroying furniture, or they may be expressed toward strangers later in life.
According to psychodynamic theory, the best ways to prevent harmful aggression may be to encourage less harmful aggression. In the steamengine analogy, verbal aggression may vent some of the aggressive steam. So might cheering on one's favorite sports team. Psychoanalysts, therapists adopting a psychodynamic approach, refer to the venting of aggressive impulses as "catharsis." Catharsis is theorized to be a safety valve. But research findings on the usefulness of catharsis are mixed. Some studies suggest that catharsis leads to reductions in tension and a lowered likelihood of future aggression. Other studies, however, suggest that letting some steam escape actually encourages more aggression later on.
The Cognitive Approach. Cognitive psychologists assert that our behavior is influenced by our values, by the ways in which we interpret our situations and by choice. For example, people who believe that aggression is necessary and justifiedas during wartimeare likely to act aggressively, whereas people who believe that a particular 38
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war or act of aggression is unjust, or who think that aggression is never justified, are less likely to behave aggressively.
One cognitive theory suggests that aggravating and painful events trigger unpleasant feelings. These feelings, in turn, can lead to aggressive action, but not automatically. Cognitive factors intervene. People decide whether they will act aggressively or not on the basis of factors such as their experiences with aggression and their interpre...
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- Fall '13