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1. Aggression as an Adaptive Response<br />Evolutionary explanations of human aggression<br />This approach suggests that aggression serves an important…
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  • 1. Aggression as an Adaptive Response<br />Evolutionary explanations of human aggression<br />This approach suggests that aggression serves an important function in terms of both individual survival as well as procreation potential.<br />Aggression is advantageous at both the individual and genetic levels.<br />Newman et al (2005) discovered that forms of a gene linked to aggressive behaviour in macaque monkeys have been around in primates for at least 25 million years. For the aggression gene to survive so long, it must have provided some advantage to its hosts.<br />Aggressive behaviour by animals<br />Animals do not necessarily try and kill other animals in their fights; their aim is to get the attacker to back down or submit, and they will only use physical force if necessary.<br />Lorenz (1966) believed humans show similar behaviour patterns to animals. For Lorenz there were four main drivers behind the behaviour of any animal (human or not).<br />These were:<br /><ul><li>Fear
  • 2. Reproduction
  • 3. Hunger
  • 4. Aggression</li></ul>He believed aggression could only occur within (and not between) species.<br />For Lorenz, the functions of aggression were:<br /><ul><li>It would ensure that only the strongest and fittest were selected.
  • 5. It would ensure survival of the young.
  • 6. It would help to distribute a species in a balanced was as animals would have their own territories.</li></ul>Lorenz formulated the idea that animals show ritualised aggression. Little harm was observed as a result of ritualised aggression. <br />Activity: Show short you tube lion aggression video (My doc.)<br />Animals tend to show one of two types of ritualised behaviour which prevents death from occurring:<br /><ul><li>Threat displays.
  • 7. Appeasement gestures.</li></ul>Lorenz’s work has been criticised for being too simplistic, especially by suggesting there are parallels between non-human animals and humans. We cannot assume that behaviour which looks similar is driven by the same underlying mechanisms. <br />Aggressive behaviour in humans<br />A simple explanation for aggression in human is that we are somehow ‘programmed’ for violence by our basic nature and we have an inbuilt tendency for violence.<br />Freud believed we all possess a powerful ‘death wish’ (thanatos), which is directed outward towards others in the form of aggression.<br />Fromm (1973) suggested that human aggression comprises two forms- benign aggression and malignant aggression. <br />Benign AggressionMalignant AggressionParent defending child from attacker.Gang warfareChild kicks older sibling.Ethnic cleansing in Serbia<br />There are significant differences between animals and human, which makes generalisation almost impossible. The aggression shown in humans might well be adaptive and useful i.e. product of evolution, but is not usually ritualistic due to the widespread of weapons. Because attackers are no longer physically close to their targets, it is likely to be the case that appeasement gestures or threat displays that would have stopped acts of aggression no longer apply.<br />Tinbergen (1968) suggested that humans are the only species in which aggression is not part of an elaborate system of ritual (e.g. mating) but is rooted in a deep desire to harm another.<br />Activity: In pairs think of three examples of human aggression in the news which was ultimately rooted in a desire to harm another:<br />1.<br />2.<br />3.<br />The evolutionary perspective suggests that aggression is the result of sexual competition. Females invest heavily in terms of parental issues (e.g. time, energy, food etc.). The males compete for females so that they can pass on their genes. <br />Evolutionary psychologists would argue that aggressive behaviour in males is a means by which they can ensure their reproductive success. <br />Activity: Write down three qualities you think a women finds attractive in a male partner<br />1.<br />2.<br />3.<br />What this means practically is that men need to be more assertive and aggressive.<br />A related view suggests that aggression springs mainly from an inherited fighting instinct that human beings share with other species (Lorenz, 1966).<br />In the past, males seeking desirable mates found it necessary to compete with other males. One way of eliminating competition was through successful aggression, which drove rivals away or even eliminated them through fatal conflict. Because males who were adept at such behaviour were more successful in securing mates and in transmitting their genes to offspring, this may have led to the development of a genetically influenced tendency for males to ‘aggress’ against other males.<br />However, Buss (1999) as reminded us that we must not assume all aggression in humans involves males. The use and form of female aggression has redeveloped. Women are more likely to exhibit verbal aggression often aimed at reducing the ‘attractiveness’ of competitors in the eyes of males, a strategy which would have evolutionary advantage for the name-caller.<br />Evolutionary explanations of Infidelity <br />Q// what is infidelity?<br />A// the process of being unfaithful with your partner, which ultimately includes having sexual relationships with someone other than your partner.<br />Evolutionary psychologists argue that the act of infidelity triggers an emotional state within the individual as it is a perceived threat to the relationship and the current status quo. Buss et al (1992) argue that this would naturally lead to the showing of behaviours that would reduce and eliminate the threat. Often such action is violent or aggressive.<br />Evolutionary psychology suggests that infidelity triggers different responses in males and females. Brunk et al (1996) suggest that from the male’s point of view, infidelity by a female brings with it not only uncertainty of paternity, but also a profound sense of sexual jealousy. However, for the female that becomes pregnant after the act of infidelity, the associated sexual jealousy is influenced not by paternal uncertainty but by the lack of time or economic resources that are given to her and her offspring by her mate. Brunk et al assert that it is the lack of emotional support that makes most women aggressive, whereas for men anger and subsequent aggression is based upon suspicion of the wife’s infidelity.<br />It is clear that infidelity and subsequent jealousy both contribute to aggressive actions.<br />Evolutionary explanations of Jealousy <br />According to Cascardi et al (1995), when Pp of studies are asked to explain the causes of the aggression in the relationship, jealousy is the most commonly attributed cause. This has been reinforced by Canary et al (1998), who argue that couples with relationship conflicts commonly reported that the anger and aggression was attributed to jealousy. However, it may be that some violent males lack effective ways of mediating and responding to situations of jealousy, compared to non-violent males (Holtzworth et al, 1991). <br />In a study by Haden and Hojjat (2006) focusing on the aggressive responsiveness in situations of partner rivalry. In two separate studies they found that men were more likely than women to consider aggressive actions against the rival, whereas women tended to be more emotionally and behaviourally reactive. In the USA, Morenz and Lane (1996) observed that ‘murder suicides’ (where an individual is murdered, then the perpetrator kills himself or herself), accounted for 1,000-1,500 deaths a year. They argued that the causal factor here could be rejection or other events beforehand.<br />Evolutionary theory explains jealousy as the desire to keep one’s mate. Males have a tendency to show male tending and guarding activities including the showing of aggressive activities to avoid sexual infidelity, whereas females display such behaviour less frequently.<br />
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