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Psychology: Seven Influences on Aggression

Aggression in a broad sense is a defensive behavior, sometimes with harmful intentions. Forms of aggression can be different. They can be physical, verbal, and non-verbal. Following Krebs (1982), “we will define aggression as any behavior intended to harm another person that the target person wants to avoid” (p. 152). It is logical to suppose that aggression is caused by some factors. According to David Myers (2010), there are seven influences on aggression. In order to have better understanding of aggression, two influences will be described.


Aversive events

Frustration and stress influence person’s behavior, inducing to operate defensively, which is the same to aggressively. The view of a burglar with gun is a reason to frustration and aggression. In this case, fear is a normal reaction, while aggression is a kind of protective behavior. Except for frustration and stress, other unpleasant events, including pain and heat, induce to aggression. For example, driving becomes a difficult task when a foreign body such as a piece of fiber gets in the eye of a driver. It is impossible to continue driving because of the pain. Irritation appears as a result of difficult situation, as the driver needs to watch the situation on the road. Because of the pain, person feels disorientation and fear of possible accident and injury. The only way is to stop and to get rid of the pain. Personal insult is also a reason for negative emotions. Person insulted verbally can feel depressed and offended. Subconscious desire to respond in the same way and the feeling of injustice and offense make the insulted person act negatively. Loss of control is a very unpleasant condition, as people feel very disoriented when something is not according to the plan. When there is no way to change the situation, it can be only accepted or not, with the only condition of loss of tranquility.

Media Influences: Television

Television is a great source of violence and aggression. Many parents are worried that their children can grow aggressive because of an overdose of negative information from television and Internet. According to Plagens, “by the age of 18, the average American child is likely to have seen about 200,000 violent acts, including 40,000 homicides” (2012). Huesmann and Moise explain why exposure to media violence might increase aggressive behavior. First of all, violence can be imitated as a norm of behavior when aggressive thoughts are subconsciously activated, and, thus, violence seems to wrongdoers justified. After observing violence repeatedly, viewers become less sensitive to aggression. Viewing violence on television produces excitement and physiological arousal (Huesmann & Moise, 1996). Children addicted to violence-related programs become unpopular in their circles of communication and even more addicted to television. As an example, after watching the cruel horror film, children behave with dread and take their parents for characters from horror films. In this case, children act defensively and aggressively on each word of their family members.


As violence-related behavior can be studied and prevented, the main task of each person is to analyze situation before reacting aggressively. Openly expressed aggression may lead to fights and grave results. People in aggressive mood are unable to think objectively and analyze situation appropriately. The only way is to analyze situation in time and not to let aggression take control over reasonable behavior.

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