I have always wondered why there is so much aggression in our world. This is really an issue of the day, because progressive increase of aggressive, violent actions has become evident for the last decade. Such socially dangerous manifestations as cruelty, vandalism, violence are closely connected with the notion of aggression
... and can be caused by internal (personal) as well as by external (social) factors.
In order to understand exactly the essence of this phenomenon, to understand whether people are aggressive by birth or it is just a pernicious influence of economic, political instability or of mass media, advertising, etc., I decided to investigate causes of aggression from the point of view of different theoretical approaches.
Nobody knows exactly if aggression is an innate or acquired phenomenon, but many agree in the fact that aggression is a type of physical or verbal behavior directed at doing harm to another human being.
S. Freud as a representative of psychoanalytical approach regards aggression as an instinctive, innate behavior, as a conflict between consciousness and unconsciousness, as one of the means of person’s psychological defense. Lorenz (1966) also states that aggression came from innate instinct of struggle for survival. He thinks that every person has this instinct and therefore he is predisposed to aggressive behavior.
Opposite point of view is represented by Berkowitz (1970) who regards aggressive behavior as a situational one. He connects it with another phenomenon – frustration that causes aggressive reactions by forming negative affect. Bandura (1983) defines aggression as acquired behavior that is formed during the process of socialization by observing corresponding manner of action and social confirmation.
Representative of humanistic approach – Rogers – explains aggression as a forced response of a human on the limitation of his freedom.
Despite the fact that there are a lot of scientific theories and researches of the phenomenon of aggression in modern social psychology, there is not enough in-depth study of many aspects of human aggression.
I can agree or disagree with theoretical approaches above-mentioned, but what I cannot deny is that aggressive tendencies, violent actions, abusive manners increase daily, especially among adolescents.
Increase of aggression in adolescent environment is one of the most important social problems. This age group is characterized by a great number of conflicts, demonstrations of aggression, violence towards coevals, juvenile delinquency. Here, I completely agree with those who find causes of aggression in family, in methods of upbringing. Because I think that families with problems, where violence, undeserved offences, feeling of hatred, wounding are usual processes, children are inclined to demonstrate aggression most of all.
According to Olweus (1980) there is a strong correlation between styles of family upbringing and adolescent aggression. He shows that parents’ negative attitude towards children, educational methods involving strength provoke children’s aggressive behavior. If there is constant abuse, violence in the family, it can cause children’s corresponding behavior towards others. As a result children are rejected by society. They are characterized by low self-appraisal and poor results. And they have nothing more to do as to identify themselves with coevals characterized by deviant behavior.
Another factor of adolescent aggression emerges here. As it was proved by a lot of psychologists, children usually can adopt different models of behavior – acceptable ones as well as unacceptable – in the process of interaction with their coevals. Communicating with aggressive children, adolescents also acquire habits of aggressive behavior, because usually words and actions of coevals as well as of members of adolescent’s families have a strong impact on formation of his aggressive behavior.
In addition to family and coevals’ influence, there is a significant pressure of mass media on adolescents’ consciousness. Its effects of demonstrations of violence in movies and television on children’s consciousness are pernicious and really dangerous. Certain investigations show that watching violence and aggression on television causes increase of aggressive behavior, besides it decreases people’s receptivity of aggression and distorts their conception of reality.
As we can see, formation of aggressive behavior is compound and many – sided process, that includes many factors. Aggressive behavior is formed by the influence of family, coevals and mass media.
Nevertheless, there is another important factor that influences aggressive behavior – personal features, individual aims and dispositions. It was proved that ordinary people can demonstrate aggressive actions, if they are characterized by irritability, tendency to see other’s hostility, fear of public opinion, etc.
Speaking about those who demonstrate aggression very often, I should point out two kinds of them: the first group has low self-control and the second one has higher self-control. Their aggressive models of behavior often can cause extreme or even fatal results.
In a word, despite the fact that situational factors have a strong impact on aggressive and violence demonstrations, there are a number of family, educational, social and personal factors that can cause aggressive behavior.
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