Aggression in psychology

Aggression is any form of behavior intended towards harming other living beings.

According to HILGARD & HIS FRIENDS (et. al), Aggression is a behavior that is intended to injure another person physically / verbally / to destroy property.  


  • Basic social factors: The words or actions of other people, either “in the flesh” or as shown in mass media.
  • Cultural factors: Such as norms(generalized way of doing things) requiring that individuals respond aggressively to insults to their honor.
  • Aspects of personality: Traits that predispose some people towards aggressive outbursts.
  • Situational factors:  Aspects of the external world such as high temperatures and alcohol.  


  • Alcohol:  Consuming alcohol can increase aggression in both men and women, perhaps because this drug reduces the individual’s capacity to process some kinds of information.
  • Cultures of honor: Cultures in which there are strong norms indicating that aggression is an appropriate response to insults to one’s honor.
  • Sexual jealousy: It is related to aggression against one’s unfaithful partner. Jealousy is a powerful emotion and is often closely associated with intense feelings of betrayal and anger. For men, sexual jealousy is focused on sexual infidelity, whereas for women, it is often focused on emotional infidelity- the withdrawal of emotional support by a mate who is involved with other females.
  • Manhood: As it appears, more precarious than womanhood: manhood can be lost through many events(e.g., an inability to support one’s family). This suggests that threats to manhood may encourage aggression as a means of restoring or protecting manhood. Research findings often support this view and highlight the importance of culturally defined gender roles in aggression.
  • Temperature: High temperature tends to increase aggression, but only up to a point. Beyond some level, aggression declines as temperature rise.  
  • Personality: People showing Type A behavior patterns are more irritable and aggressive than people with Type B behavior patterns.
  • Instrumental aggression: Aggression in which the primary goal is not to harm the victim but rather the attainment of some other goal-for example, access to valued resources.
  • Media violence: Exposure to media violence has been found to increase aggression among viewers. This is due to several factors, such as the priming of aggressive thoughts and a weakening of restraints against aggression, and also to desensitization to such materials.
  • Frustration-Aggression hypothesis: All aggression does not stem from frustration, and frustration does not always lead to aggression. Frustration is a strong elicitor of aggression only under certain limited conditions.
  • Provocation: Provocation from others is a powerful elicitor of aggression. Even mild teasing can stimulate aggression, although such effects are stronger in certain cultures than others.
  • Basic needs / Motives ( Hunger, Thirst, Lack of money, etc. ):  When the basic needs of a person are not fulfilled it often leads to aggression, which might be in the form of instrumental or hostile aggression.  


  • Self Regulation: The ability to manage one’s own emotions and behavior in accordance with the demands of the situation. It includes being able to resist highly emotional reactions to upsetting stimuli, calm yourself down when you get upset, adjust to a change in expectations, and handle frustration without an outburst.
  • Catharsis: The view that providing angry people with an opportunity to express their aggressive impulses in relatively safe ways will reduce their tendencies to engage in more harmful forms of aggression.
  • Change the environment: The change in the environment from a violent negatively provoking to a peaceful positive place can reduce the amount of aggression.
  • Punishment: Procedures in which aversive consequences are delivered to individuals when they are engaged in specific actions. Punishment can reduce aggression, but only if it meets four basic requirements:  
    1. It must be prompt- It must follow aggressive actions as quickly as possible,
    2. It must be certain to occur- The probability that it will follow aggression must be very high,
    3. It must be strong-  Strong enough to be highly unpleasant to potential recipients,
    4. It must be perceived by recipients as justified or deserved.
  • Self Affirmation:  Refers to the tendency to respond to a threat to one’s competence in another area(different from the threat).
  • Blaming the victim of aggression: Often when anything happens, we give it a cause to our self, which leads to frustration and anger, but when the cause of the event/situation is someone else then we hardly blame ourselves, and also causes less aggression.
  • Meditation: This practice uses techniques such as mindfulness/ focusing their mind on a particular object, thought/activity, to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
  • Good parental model: The child should be exposed to good and normal models. Parents should try their best not to quarrel in the presence of a child. They should try to beet models for the child to imitate. They should do what they preach. There should not be any gaff between preaching and actual practice.
  • Talking therapy: When one feels hostility or annoyance against someone if s/he tells this to someone of confidence like a good friend a spouse, son/daughter, or any well-wisher without harming the enemy/target of aggression.
  • Writing Therapy: Daily diary writing can help people manage and control their aggressive symptoms which might lead them to depression, anxiety, and neurosis, this technique helps hostile feelings being relieved without the target of aggression.

DISCLAIMER: After going through this,  if you think you have these symptoms/somebody around you does have,  DON’T IMMEDIATE LABEL SELF/OTHERS,  rather consult an expert psychologist !!!

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One thought on “Aggression in psychology

  • January 24, 2022 at 11:46 am

    You made a number of good points there. I did a search on the issue and found mainly folks will go along with with your blog.


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