“Humans are inherently aggressive, but there may be social explanations for this behaviour too - please discuss with reference to key biological and social theories of aggression.”

Topics: Evolutionary psychology, Aggression, Psychology Pages: 2 (533 words) Published: October 23, 2013
Aggression is defined as “behaviour directed towards another individual carried out with immediate intent to cause harm.” {Anderson and Huesman, 2003} Explanations for aggressive behaviour fall under two main categories: the biological and social explanation. The biological explanations have three main approaches: psychodynamic theory, ethology and evolutionary social psychology. In contrast, the social explanations include: frustration-aggression hypothesis, excitation transfer model and social learning theory. In this essay I will discuss about ethology and the social learning theory. Ethology is a branch of biology that studies instincts of all members of a species in their natural environment. Lorenz (1966) proposed that aggression had survival value. He first discussed aggression in animals and then later extended it to human beings. In animals, ethology has two factors: one, animals have an innate need to aggress and two; environmental releasers (stimuli) provoke aggressive behaviour. Animals have a tendency to show aggression even towards its own members, for purposes such as: mating, competition for food or even territory. In humans, Lorenz argues that we have inherited the “fighting instinct”. However, unlike animals, we are not very equipped for killing that is we don’t have large claws or teeth, e.t.c. Hence, ethology implies that we do not have control over ourselves once we begin to be violent and we usually depend on weapons to kill. An example of this can be seen in history when in October, 1961 the Soviet Union set off a 50 megaton device that killed around 200,000 people at once. Therefore, ethology explains the view that humans are inherently aggressive, which also means it supports the nature view of the nature-nurture debate. On the other hand, the social learning theory (Bandura, 1973) suggests that human behaviour is not inherited but rather learned from models. According to Bandura a person will be aggressive or not depending on the...
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