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Aggression: a social learning analysis - Essay Example

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Aggression is evident in every aspect of our lives. The media is replete with stories of conflict. There is no avoiding the references: the insurgency in Iraq, the struggle with terrorism,the military war complex, the list goes on. …
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Aggression: a social learning analysis
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Download file to see previous pages Aggression is evident in every aspect of our lives. The media is replete with stories of conflict. There is no avoiding the references: the insurgency in Iraq, the struggle with terrorism,the military war complex, the list goes on. There is hardly a place where we don t see this behavior. But while it is present everywhere classification is a more elusive problem. The age old question inevitably arises: Is aggression acquired through social acculturation or is it something inherent, that is to say is simply an inborn trait. Moving from the international scale to the domestic it is present when we drive on our roads and encounter the anger that wells up in traffic. There are many approaches to the subject. Every discipline has an approach that appears to be compelling and relevant. This paper will take the stand the aggression is inborn and in the footsteps of famed behaviorist Konrad Lorenz will make that case with support from the areas of animal behavior, sport and criminal behavior. This spectrum explores many of the manifestations of aggression. The suggestion of inevitability in the form of instinct in animals. The ritual and mass entertainment value of aggression in contact sports and finally the form of aggression that plays on societies atavistic fears in criminal behavior.Konrad Lorenz in his seminal book On Aggression outlined what he believed was the biological basis of aggression. He believed that intra-species aggression, as he called it, was a necessary force for survival of a species. The aggression that was apparent in animal mating behavior was perhaps the most clear illustration of Natural Selection at work. Animals were instinctively driven to aggression withing their own kind to ensure a form of competition where the best genes would be the most aggressive and competitive and this victory of drives would be carried on to the next generation. While this assertion would appear to suggest that because aggression is innate then violence and strife are therefore, as a natural consequence, inevitable; it is not the assertion that Lorenz makes even at the level of animal behavior. For as he puts it " "Redirection of the attack is evolution's most ingenious expedient for guiding aggression into harmless channels," (Lorenz 54) Lorenz therefore suggests that practically all animal behavior even when it is not typically aggressive is still a displaced form of aggression. Lorenz' theories of innate forces shaping aggression were challenged by Developmental Biologists who made a good case for the importance of Developmental factors in animal behavior, like ,"In rhesus macaques, for example, the recognition of emotional expressions in conspecifics and the ability to cooperate in agonistic interaction depend on infant social interaction for their development (Mason, 1985)." (Griffiths)
The developmental theories did not however negate Lorenz assertions. Innate qualities were always to be seen in the context of the forces of Natural Selection. Lorenz was just rather emphatic that whatever the insults of upbringing the innate aggressive drive was always present and there was no sentiment in its relation with the forces of Natural Selection: a creature survived or died on its own strengths and weaknesses. While animal behavior is often used as a model for human behavior, another interesting perspective is to examine contact sports activities which are most obviously aggressive and yet enjoy a great deal of attention from society
Aggression in contact sports is a source of fascination for a mass audiences. Football in America is a rite of passage and a pastime but it is underneath its veneer a brutal activity. The violence is not a source of repulsion for a large part of the population but rather a source of revelry. One football player expressed the joy of the aggression of the sport: "football allows you to use your body in harmony with your mind. You not only have an inward attitude toward your opponent; you must also physically hit him as hard, as cleanly, and as ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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