Aggression is necessary for survival: Discuss. Base your answer on psychological theories and models introduced in class.
In this essay I will discuss the considerable controversy that still exists over the origins of aggression in humans where the old issue of nature versus nature is raised again. I will look at whether aggression is the result of genetically inherited biological drives and impulses carried down from our forebears which were necessary for our survival, or whether it is a part of human nature that has come from our social and environmental situation, in other words, a behaviour that is acquired through experience and learning.
The first thing ...view middle of the document...
So anger is an emotional, physiological and cognitive state, in other words we feel it as a strong emotion; it has physiological effects on our body and it is also cognitive in that it translates into thoughts which have an effect on what we choose to do, ie retaliate with anger or rationalise the action that has caused the anger and choose to be conciliatory. Therefore everyone has angry feelings from time to time because it is a normal adaptive emotion so not in itself problematic, in fact, in some situations anger gives us strength to challenge injustice or to make necessary changes in our lives. However, at other times anger becomes aggression.
Aggression though is not always a response to a trigger or a threat. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the basic requirements for food, shelter and safety are paramount and, even today, these needs must be met before any higher social demands such as love and companionship, self-esteem and independence can be sought. In the animal kingdom aggression is used achieve these basic needs, and humans are no exception. This is aggression used as a tool for survival of the fittest and for the protection and betterment of the group, however big or small. Obviously omnivores and carnivores must use aggression in order to eat meat, as a living thing must be killed in order for this to be achieved. Aggression is also used to obtain territory from a rival and for humans this could have been a cave that offered better protection, more productive land, better access to water etc. Therefore in order to survive, humans had to cause suffering to other humans, and this is still happening in today’s society, just on a much bigger scale. Perhaps instinctively we can only care for our own family, clan, society or country and have to dehumanise others in order to achieve this. In some ways this form of aggression can be seen as power, and it would seem that in many individuals using violence today, whether it be domestic violence, rape or murder, do so with power as the trigger or motivation.
So we can see that there are two main types of aggression.
1. Hostile aggression – the desired outcome is to inflict pain, mental or physical, and which can be triggered by anger
2. Instrumental aggression – used as a method of achieving a goal, ie is reward led. Again this could be something concrete or a psychological reward.
Through his psychoanalytical theory Freud first described aggression as a result of the suppression of the libido, the innate drives that he believed motivated all human behaviour. He believed that if our childhood conflicts between the id (our basic drives, especially the sexual drive) and the superego (developed as a result of learning from reward/punishment) become successfully controlled by the ego, aggression should be removed by adulthood. This ties in with M S Kerr (2012) who states that “the frequency of physical aggression peaks around 2-3 years of age. It then...