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Instrumental and Hostile Aggression

Markus was excited to finally arrive in Metrocity and was eager to explore. He stepped out of the crowded subway car and headed for the long, steep stairway that led to street-level. He was shocked to see a group of young men forcing their way through the crowd on the stairway, pushing people aside, shouting about trying to catch the next train. Several people were hurt including a young woman who fell down and was bleeding. Her husband grabbed one of the young men and began shaking and punching him.

  1. Two types of aggression are described in this scenario. Describe each type, identify which person or persons exhibited each type of aggression and support your answer with information from our textbook.

The textbook social psychology defined aggression as an act intended to harm (Warburton & Anderson, 2015). The young men who pushed people to make way for themselves fall under the instrumental type of aggression since it involves aggression as a means to an end. They used aggression to catch the train. Thus, they used instrumental aggression. The husband of the woman who got hurt due to the pushing of the young men in the subway used hostile aggression. Since his action was out of impulse and anger. 

  1. Based on empirical evidence described in our textbook, would you say that aggressive behavior is learned or are we all born with aggressive tendencies? Be sure to include examples from our textbook (cited) to support your answer.

On the basis of empirical evidence, aggressiveness is present in humans. The level of testosterone and serotonin determines aggression in humans. The genetic, biochemical, and neural factors lead to fluctuation in individuals’ behavior, particularly aggressive. However, scientists do not agree completely that humans are aggressive by birth, there are examples of aggression caused because of some goals or desire, for example, terrorist attacks, bank robberies, murders. These examples show aggressive behavior is not always genetically programmed rather an outcome of certain circumstances (Eliot, 2021).

  1. A man was punched and knocked unconscious when he was caught in the act of breaking into another man’s home. Which of these men is more likely to have reacted to the home invasion in this aggressive manner: Mitchell (who was born and raised in an area historically inhabited by sheep farmers in a Southern state) or Steven (who was born and raised in an industrial Northern city). Explain your choice based on what Myers and Twenge wrote about culture and aggressive behavior.

Some social psychologists suggest that culture also determines aggression in an individual (Greitemeyer, 2018). Research shows, people who settled in the Southern states of the U.S. appeared more aggressive in their behavior than those from Northern cities. This is due to the prevalence of cultural differences. Presently, Southern parts of the U.S. record higher rates of homicides as compared to Northerners. Thus, the probability of Mitchel reacting in an aggressive manner is more than Steven on home invasion. Additionally, men from the southern region appear to be supporting their peers upon aggressive response.

  1. Based on information provided in our textbook, how is aggression related to social status?

Social status also affects aggression in an individual. Often, individuals determine their social hierarchy by comparing their wealth, education, job, taste, and preferences with others. Research shows a comparison of social status leads to an augmentation of relative deprivation feeling among people. Further, people show signs of aggression due to unsatisfied and deprived feelings. The comparison phenomenon of social status is linked with individuals showing aggression (Eliot, 2021). 

  1. Describe the experiment Albert Bandura conducted that provided important information related to aggressive behavior. What did this research tell us about aggressive behavior? Why was this landmark study so significant?

Empirical Causes of Aggression in Humans

The experiment aimed at studying whether violent viewing can lead to aggressive behavior. The results show that viewing violence does increase the level of aggression in the viewer. The children involved in the experiment showed signs of inclined violence. The experiment of punching of bobo doll by adults made them justify the violence in their minds. The experiment concluded that children show aggressive behavior by observing and learning through the violent or aggressive acts of others (Hollis, 2019).

Pat has been arrested several times for crimes involving aggressive behavior. Explain how the following factors may be impacting Pat’s behavior.

  1. Alcohol:

The evidence of both crime records and laboratory experiments shows alcohol as one of the causes of aggression among people. When an intoxicated person is provoked he is more likely to instant aggression as compared to a sober person. Drunk individuals feel angrier than a most sober individuals (Parrott, 2018). Furthermore, alcohol blurs rational cognitive thinking. Thus, the involvement of Pat in several aggressive crimes may be due to intoxication.

  1. Gender. Did you assume Pat was male or female? Explain why. Does gender typically have an impact related to aggressive behavior?

The probability of Pat being a male is higher since aggressive behavior is more evident in men. The reports suggest men are more prone to indulging in aggressive behaviors both verbal and physical. Men tend to react more on impulse than women. Woman shows aggression in an indirect and rational manner while men show physical aggression directly (Bjorkqvist, 2018). The biology of men makes them hot-headed as compared to men. Additionally, data shows the number of men involved in aggression or violence is quite higher than the rate of women showing aggressive behavior.

  1. Family Background:

Children from broken or abusive families are likely to be more aggressive and violent. The data suggests that the number of delinquents belonging to broken and abusive families is more as compared to children with normal family backgrounds. Since family is the first and most intimate social group from which children observe and learn (Barnova, 2019). Thus, it appears Pat has either been the victim of verbal or physical violence or he comes from a broken family. The family plays a defining role in molding children’s behavior. 

  1. Personal Discomfort or Pain:

As per Azrin Research, Pain or discomfort is directly proportional to increased violence. Experiment termed it as “psychological pain”. Even an unpleasant incident can trigger painful memories resulting in instant aggressive or hostile behavior (Allen, 2018). Thus, the pain increases aggression in humans. Thus, the chances that Pat has experienced pain or personal discomfort are high.

Culture and Social Status as Factors of Aggression

Respond to the next two statements based on the information provided by Myers & Twenge regarding violence and the media.

  1. Violent movies and television programs should be banned because they cause people to commit violent acts. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

I agree that violent television programs and movies influence the individual. More than 100 research conducted in the U.S. had confirmed that individuals who watched violent television programs showed more aggression in their behavior and vice versa. Also, the American Association of Psychological concluded irrefutably that violent behavior is developed by viewing violence. A similar outcome has been witnessed when listening to violent or sexual lyrical songs. Movies and television programs lead to imitation by their audience (Huesmann, 2009). However, television and media also help in developing prosocial behavior if regulated properly. Thus, a complete ban is recommended rather than regulation of those programs will help, since, the media influences prime thinking.

  1. People are responsible for choices they make. Violent movies and television programs are purely entertainment and have no impact on violent behavior. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

It is true people are responsible for their choice, however, media influences the perception of reality. Several research shows violent tv programs and movies result in desensitization among their viewers. An individual who is more prone to seeing violence shows signs of emotional numbing i.e., no emotional arousing when encountered with violence. Thus, legitimatizing violence in their lives (Piotrowski, 2019). Media builds a social script in the minds of the viewers, dictating their cognitive and behavioral thinking. Heavy viewers of violent movies showed a more violent behavior than the light viewers. 

  1. Myers and Twenge identify eight factors associated with (or predictive of) aggressive behavior. Please list all eight.

Following are the eight factors linked with aggressive behavior identified by Myers and Twenge in the book (Myers, 2016):

  1. Drug or alcohol- Research shows intoxication or drug inducement shows signs of an increased level of aggression and violence.
  2. Past crime or vandalism record: Individuals previously convicted are likely to be more aggressive than people with no history of crime.
  3. Male actors- Aggressive behavior is more evident in men. Data shows men are more prone to indulging in aggressive behaviors both verbal and physical.
  4. Pain or personal discomfort- Research shows people learn aggression by both observing and learning.
  5. Group Influences- Frequency of aggression is seen amongst people acting due to group decisions or influence.
  6. Aggression cues- The repressed or pent-up anger appears to result in aggression cues.
  7. Presence of weapons- The rate of crime and weapon availability are directly proportional.
  8. Viewing violence- Heavy viewers of violence showed a more aggressive behavior than the light viewers. It influences cognitive and behavioral thinking.

What are some ways Myers and Twenge suggest that could help reduce cyberbullying? Please provide at least two specific examples from our textbook and explain why each of these might be successful.

Bullying involves both verbal as well as physical actions, such as teasing, name-calling, pushing, hitting, and shoving. Due to technological advancement, a new form of bullying has taken place in the virtual space i.e., cyberbullying. It can be reduced by the efforts of parents and school. Children must be counseled properly about the consequences of their actions before permitting them to enter cyberspace. They should be taught to be respectable and responsible at it. Further, parents should keep a close watch on their children and add them on social media platforms. They should have access to their emails. Also, parents, teachers, and other authorities to keep up with the cyber world, particularly the apps or websites children are using.  Supervision reduces the risk of child delinquency (Ciciora, 2009).

Impact of Violence and Media on Aggression

What role does parenting play in reducing aggressive behavior? Provide an example from research cited in our textbook. Explain from a Biblical perspective why parenting has such a powerful effect.

Children from broken families are more likely to show aggressive behavior, since, the influence of parenting affects the aggressive behavior of children. The probability of a higher risk of aggressive behavior in children increases post-parental breakup. Reports indicate children brought up without a father show higher signs of aggression. However, the presence of a loving and nurturing mother or extended family can significantly reduce aggressive behavior. The role of a family plays a crucial part in molding a child’s behavior and life choices (Cho, Masud, Fakhr, & Ahmad, 2019).

Explain how anger and aggression may or may not be connected. What is the best way to manage anger or frustration (venting, holding it in or other?). Use information and scenarios from our textbook rather than from personal experience.

The frustration-aggression theory confirms frustration as a cause of aggression. Also, frustration increases if they desire to attain something that is strong and its failure leads to anger (Liang, 2018). Thus, frustration motivates individuals to aggress. However, understandable frustration did not result in anger. Also, anger and aggression are linked with each other. Anger is is an emotion, and aggression is the action in response to the violent or hostile event led by anger. Both anger and frustration can be managed or even reduced by inducing a non-aggression reward model, avoiding aversive stimulation, and causing reactions mismatched with aggression.


Allen, J. J. (2018). The general aggression model. Current opinion in psychology, 75-80.

Barnova, S. T. (2019). The role of resilience in coping with negative parental behaviour. Acta Educationis Generalis, 93-106.

Bjorkqvist, K. (2018). Gender differences in aggression. Psychogical Review, 39-42.

Cho, K. W., Masud, H., Fakhr, Z., & Ahmad, S. M. (2019). Parenting Styles and Aggression Among Young Adolescents: A Systematic Review of Literature. Community Mental Health Journal, 1015-1030.

Ciciora, P. (2009, September 8). What constitutes bullying, and how should kids and parents respond to it? Illinois news bureau.

Eliot, L. (2021). Brain development and physical aggression: how a small gender difference grows into a violence problem. Current anthropology, 566-578.

Greitemeyer, T. &. (2018). Does low (vs. high) subjective socioeconomic status increase both prosociality and aggression? Social Psychology.

Hollis, L. P. (2019). Lessons from Bandura’s Bobo Doll experiments: Leadership’s deliberate indifference exacerbates workplace bullying in higher education. Journal for the Study of Postsecondary and Tertiary Education, 085-102.

Huesmann, L. R. (2009). The Impact of Electronic Media Violence: Scientific Theory and Research. Adolescent Health Journal.

Liang, L. H. (2018). The dimensions and mechanisms of mindfulness in regulating aggressive behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 281.

Myers, D. a. (2016). Social Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Parrott, D. J. (2018). Effects of alcohol on human aggression. Current opinion in psychology, 1-5.

Piotrowski, J. T. (2019). Media violence and aggression. Routledge, 211-226.

Warburton, W. A., & Anderson, C. A. (2015). Aggression in Social Psychology. Elsevier, 295-299

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