provocation. In behavioral science studies it is known as an intention to cause harm, or show social dominance. Aggression can be demonstrated as physical, verbally or non-verbally. This paper is intended to shed light on different aspects of aggression and violence. The author chose this topic because he works with aggressive and violent individuals on a daily basis, and is intrigued by what causes people to be so aggressive towards each other.
Physical violence by adolescents and young adults is a major point of concern in societies today. For the last 40 years, many studies have attempted to show how playful, carefree children turn into violent juvenile delinquents. Many of these studies have shown it is due to poor parental supervision, family break-up, negative peer influences and poverty. Males are the most accounted for being arrested for violent crimes. “The principle explanation for violent behavior has long been the following: ‘aggressive and violent behaviors are learned responses to frustration, they can also be learned as instruments for achieving goals, and the learning occurs by observing models of such behavior. Such models may be observed in the family, among peers, elsewhere in the neighborhood, through the mass media, or in violent pornography” (Tremblay, 2002).
Most of the earlier research on aggression has focused mainly on adolescents and adults. One unexpected finding in many of the tests that included elementary school-aged children was that the frequency of children’s physical aggression reduced from the time they began school, until the end of high school. These results were the same for boys and girls, although girls showed lower frequencies of physical aggression. These observations were seen in the 1980s and 1990s in Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, where the rate of homicide was rising. Due to the decline in the frequency of physical aggression with age, many researchers believe the aggression may not be from a social learning perspective because they are exposed to more models of aggression as they grow older. Studies show it is unlikely that an adolescent who has never been physically aggressive in the past will suddenly have problems with physical aggression in the future. The findings of these studies propose a major question: if children are at their peak in physical aggression when they begin school, when do they learn to become physically aggressive (Tremblay, 2002)?
Longitudal studies up to the adolescent years found that preschool is a sensitive period for children to learn how to regulate physical aggression. Studies show that only 5%-10% of children that continue to show high levels of aggression are at a greater risk of engaging in physical violence during adolescence. Some believe that children do not have to observe models of aggression to begin its use. “In 1972, Donald Hebb, a father of modern psychology, noted that children did not need to learn how to have a temper tantrum” (Tremblay, 2002).
Alcohol abuse has been linked to many types of aggression. Research evidence supports a role in heavy drinking may promote an increased risk of aggressive behavior and violent crime. One explanation of this behavior is that alcohol reduces anxiety, increases risk taking, increased emotionability, and impaired cognitive functioning, may play a role in making a drinker more aggressive. An individual’s personality may also play a role in the enhanced aggression. If a person is naturally aggressive, the alcohol consumption may enhance his/her personality. S. Wells and K. Graham analyzed survey responses to determine whether aggression was related more with drinking alcohol or not drinking alcohol. They determined that heavy drinking was related to aggression, whereas it was less intense without the alcohol. Researchers have also examined the link between drinking, level of intoxication and the severity of aggression. Studies showed that aggression resulting in injury was more likely when alcohol was involved. One study in a barroom showed the association between the level of intoxication and the severity of aggression was higher than in a non-barroom study (Wells, Giesbrecht, Ialomiteanu, & Graham, 2011).
Two subtypes of aggression have been identified by researchers: reactive and proactive. Reactive aggression is known for being impulsive angry retaliation. An example of reactive aggression may be on where an aggressor spits in the face of a victim. The victim immediately and instinctively retaliates by beating the aggressor up. The victim reacted according to his/her emotions or circumstances at the time. Proactive aggression is when the act is though out. An example of proactive aggression may be one of a stalker, sexual predator, or pre-meditated murder (Bobadilla, Wampler, & Taylor, 2012).
One form of aggression that is seen in the media is sexual aggression. In early studies all the way back to 1967, researchers have identified male college students who have admitted to obtaining sex from females against their wishes through verbal coercion, physical force and alcohol consumption. In early studies, 25% of men surveyed reported that they had forced a woman to have some form of sexual intercourse against their will. Most of the reports were of girlfriends, casual dates, and friends. Studies have also shown that most of the men that have committed these types of acts distrust women, are easily angered by them, or hold views of relationships in a different way than other men. Some even view it as a game to be won (Abbey, Jacques-Tiura, & LeBreton, 2011).
The author of this paper works with many aggressive individuals on a daily basis. Some are more aggressive than others, and some have even shown signs of their aggression decreasing. The author has taken time to interview several of the individuals that he works with to try and obtain any pertinent information for this paper. One of the individuals interviewed was a long time correctional supervisor who is very abrasive, yet respected by everyone he is around. The supervisor stated that he noticed his aggression beginning just before high school. At that time he was being bullied by other students. He had enough and started fighting back. Eventually he realized that he was not the only person getting bullied: the less fortunate, poor kids, ugly kids, mentally and physically disabled kids were getting bullied also. This individual is, and always has been a large framed guy, so he used it to his advantage and stopped a lot of the bullying that was happening to his friends. He eventually started working at the prison in Kentucky, and moved up in rank, and wears many hats, so to speak. He is firm in what he expects from his employees, and he is fair when it comes to disciplinary action towards inmates and staff. He believes that many of the newer generation of employees are what keeps him abrasive in his personality, because people seem to always want something but never want to give anything in return. His home life is much like his work life, only he is more lenient at home with his family because it is a more comfortable environment, and it doesn’t seem like his family is out to get him in trouble. He stated that if he is faced with a challenge, for instance his child not cleaning his room after being told countless times, is when the aggression and abrasive personality comes out. He stated that his son poses a challenge, in a sense of challenging his authority.
Two inmates that were interviewed were gang members before their incarceration. These two inmates are very well respected by staff and inmates, and very powerful among the inmate population. They did not want to comment too much on their previous activities before prison, but one thing they could both agree on is that they were bullied in school, and that is why they joined the gangs. They believed they “had a family that had our back” (Paul P., William K. 2012). After years of incarceration for murder, they realized they were wrong. The same family that had their backs on the street hasn’t contacted them since they went to prison. These two inmates took out their frustrations on staff and inmates for several years, until they “grew up” and accepted responsibilities for their own actions. Both inmates have contributed their decrease in aggressiveness to growing older.
Another inmate that was interviewed that has had past aggression issues blamed them on being sexually molested as a child. He stated that he took his frustrations out on everyone and everything around him, which in turn promoted his juvenile criminal activities. He was first sent to a boy’s home at the age of 15, and every time he got out he would get into more trouble, until eventually committed murder and ended up with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Like the two gang bangers, he credited his decrease in aggressive behavior to growing up. Now at age 41, to channel his built up aggression he “hits the weight pile” (Tim M., 2012).
In conclusion, this paper was written to discuss different types of aggression, whether physical, verbal, non-verbal and sexual. Many studies and research have been in the works for many years to determine what may cause aggression in individuals. It was once believed that aggression is a learned response, and that one must be in the presence of aggression to become aggressive. More recent studies contradict this theory because children throw temper tantrums without ever being around aggressive individuals. One question remains is that how is it possible for aggression to be a learned response, when aggression generally decreases with age and maturity. This paper also discussed how some studies revealed that people with aggressive personalities became more aggressive with frequent alcohol consumption. During all of the research and interviews done for this paper, the author seems to