Aggression – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Recommended by Dr. Michael White, Updated on October 25th, 2018
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Aggression is overt, often harmful, social interaction with the intention of inflicting damage or other unpleasantness upon another individual. It is a virtually universal behavior among animals. It may occur either in retaliation or without provocation. In humans, frustration due to blocked goals can cause aggression. Submissiveness may be viewed as the opposite of aggressiveness.

In definitions commonly employed in the social sciences and behavioral sciences, aggression is a response by an individual that delivers something unpleasant to another person.[1] Some definitions include that the individual must intend to harm another person.[2]Predatory or defensive behavior between members of different species may not be considered aggression in the same sense.

Aggression can take a variety of forms which may be expressed physically or communicated verbally or non-verbally: including anti-predator aggression, defensive aggression (fear-induced), predatory aggression, dominance aggression, inter-male aggression, resident-intruder aggression, maternal aggression, species-specific aggression, sex-related aggression, territorial aggression, isolation-induced aggression, irritable aggression, and brain-stimulation-induced aggression (hypothalamus). There are two subtypes of human aggression: (1) controlled-instrumental subtype (purposeful or goal-oriented); and (2) reactive-impulsive subtype (often elicits uncontrollable actions that are inappropriate or undesirable). Aggression differs from what is commonly called assertiveness, although the terms are often used interchangeably among laypeople (as in phrases such as "an aggressive salesperson").[3]

Two broad categories of aggression are commonly distinguished. One includes affective (emotional) and hostile, reactive, or retaliatory aggression that is a response to provocation, and the other includes instrumental, goal-oriented or predatory, in which aggression is used as a mean to achieve a goal.[4] An example of hostile aggression would be a person who punches someone who insulted him or her. An instrumental form of aggression would be armed robbery. Research on violence from a range of disciplines lend some support to a distinction between affective and predatory aggression.[5] However, some researchers question the usefulness of a hostile vs instrumental distinction in humans, despite its ubiquity in research, because most real-life cases involve mixed motives and interacting causes.[6]

A number of classifications and dimensions of aggression have been suggested. These depend on such things as whether the aggression is verbal or physical; whether or not it involves relational aggression such as covert bullying and social manipulation;[7] whether harm to others is intended or not; whether it is carried out actively or expressed passively; and whether the aggression is aimed directly or indirectly. Classification may also encompass aggression-related emotions (e.g. anger) and mental states (e.g. impulsivity, hostility).[8] Aggression may occur in response to non-social as well as social factors, and can have a close relationship with stress coping style.[9] Aggression may be displayed in order to intimidate.

The operative definition of aggression may be affected by moral or political views. Examples are the axiomatic moral view called the non-aggression principle and the political rules governing the behavior of one country toward another.[10] Likewise in competitive sports, or in the workplace, some forms of aggression may be sanctioned and others not.[11]

The term aggression comes from the Latin aggressio, meaning attack. The Latin was itself a joining of ad- and gradi-, which meant step at. The first known use dates back to 1611, in the sense of an unprovoked attack.[12] A psychological sense of "hostile or destructive behavior: dates back to 1912, in an English translation of the writing of Sigmund Freud.[13]Alfred Adler had theorized about an "aggressive drive: in 1908. Child raising experts began to refer to aggression rather than anger from the 1930s.[14]

Ethologists study aggression as it relates to the interaction and evolution of animals in natural settings. In such settings aggression can involve bodily contact such as biting, hitting or pushing, but most conflicts are settled by threat displays and intimidating thrusts that cause no physical harm. This form of aggression may include the display of body size, antlers, claws or teeth; stereotyped signals including facial expressions; vocalizations such as bird song; the release of chemicals; and changes in coloration.[15] The term agonistic behaviour is sometimes used to refer to these forms of behavior.

Most ethologists believe that aggression confers biological advantages. Aggression may help an animal secure territory, including resources such as food and water. Aggression between males often occurs to secure mating opportunities, and results in selection of the healthier/more vigorous animal. Aggression may also occur for self-protection or to protect offspring.[16] Aggression between groups of animals may also confer advantage; for example, hostile behavior may force a population of animals into a new territory, where the need to adapt to a new environment may lead to an increase in genetic flexibility.[17]

The most apparent type of interspecific aggression is that observed in the interaction between a predator and its prey. However, according to many researchers, predation is not aggression. A cat does not hiss or arch its back when pursuing a rat, and the active areas in its hypothalamus resemble those that reflect hunger rather than those that reflect aggression.[18] However, others refer to this behavior as predatory aggression, and point out cases that resemble hostile behavior, such as mouse-killing by rats.[19] In aggressive mimicry a predator has the appearance of a harmless organism or object attractive to the prey; when the prey approaches, the predator attacks.

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Aggression - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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