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Aggression Studies in Modern World Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Dec 11th, 2019

Empirical studies on aggression have revealed the motivation behind extreme forms of aggression. Increased homicide rates are attributed to aggression. Studies in a number of industrialized countries have recorded increase in aggression with some causes of the increased form of violence being accessibility of weapons, global warming, exposure to violent media and violence against young children among others.

According to Daffern, Howells, & Ogloff (2007, 104) theoretical analyses and fresh empirical discoveries have led to promising treatment of aggressive behaviour. Various authors have used different approaches to decipher the major causes of aggression and why it is prevalent in men than in women. Moreover, some studies have indicated that women are involved in indirect forms of aggression. This essay will provide an analysis of aggression as revealed in various articles.

Empirical Studies on Aggression

Daffern, Howells, & Ogloff, (2007, 104) describe various definitions and theories of aggression. Their article is divided into sections that delve on outcomes, routes, and sources of aggression. On the other hand, Richardson & Green (2003, 13) offer an extensive insight into the aggression phenomenon by offering a description from philosophers, scholars and men of letters. Through ethology, psychoanalytic study on patients, and psychoendocrinologic research, the authors provides an overview of various causes of aggression.

Daffern, Howells, & Ogloff (2007, 107) and Rappaport & Thomas (2004, 268) classify aggression in various ways. These ways include aggression targets, whether directed to self or to others, aggression mode, whether verbal or physical, indirect or direct, and the causes of aggression, which can be medical.

Subtypes of aggression such as impulsive aggression and premeditated aggression, have received considerable attention. The latter is a form of aggression not associated with frustrations or response to threats. Premeditated aggression is also known as instrumental aggression or proactive aggression.

Individuals who have a clear goal in their minds perpetrate this form of aggression. Contrary, impulsive aggression has the characteristic of precipitation and autonomic arousal through provocation. This form of aggression is usually associated with emotions such as fear or anger.

Rappaport & Thomas (2004, 268) reveal that impulsive aggression is response to perceived stress. This form of aggression is pathological in case the responses become exaggerated. Sometimes, impulsive aggression may be deemed defensive such as during dangerous threats.

Methodologies Used

An empirical analysis by Richardson & Green, (2003, 15) reveals that more people are dying from interpersonal or self-inflicted violence. This violence is usually caused by impulsive aggression. Anderson & Bushman, (2002, 28) reveal that a quarter of all men and half of the women report physical aggression after the age of 18 years.

Similar to this study, Richardson & Green (2003, 17) claim that impulsive or irritable aggression has a substantial rate of heritability. These findings are consistent with the analysis of a study by Anderson & Bushman (2002, 28), who reveal that environmental interactions play a huge role in anti-social and aggressive behaviour. Environmental factors conducive to aggression are familial, cultural, and socioeconomic factors, which have been covered in the aforementioned.

Anderson (2010, 414) adds that people with biological risks for aggression are particularly vulnerable to psychosocial adversity effects. For example, some genes interact with maltreatment and adversity during childhood to make an individual more inclined to violence.

An empirical study by Rappaport & Thomas (2004, 260) indicates that impulsive and episodic physical and verbal aggression is associated with psychiatric disorders and is usually seen in some personality disorders. Most of the violent offenders are men who possess severe personality disorders.

Assessing individuals for aggressive behaviours requires a well-organized approach, which draws on diagnostic interviews, clinical knowledge and familiarity with the protective, and risk factors. Various methodologies have been adopted in arriving at information regarding aggression.

Various determinants of aggression have underlying motivations. Various authors have reviewed interventions such as psychopharmacological treatment, psychosocial treatment, and therapy for cognitive behaviour in an attempt to expand research that defines the optimal treatment for aggressive behaviour (Rappaport & Thomas 2004, 261).

The empirical study provided by Rappaport & Thomas (2004, 261) focuses on important findings on aggression in certain age groups. This coverage is absent in the study by Anderson & Bushman (2002, 32) who have excluded conduct disorder, risk factors, and aggression sub-types in their study.

The main areas of their research are individual factors such as gender. Their article delves on aggressive males with little attention on the female due to the large number of males involved in violent crimes and excessive forms of aggression.

The main shortcoming of this study is that readers have difficulties understanding the gender differences that exist in aggression because the study only had male participants. The cross-sectional study adopted by Richardson & Green (2003, 17) helps to understand the gender characteristics of aggressive behaviour because it relies on a follow-up which gives a history of aggressive behaviour in girls and the symptoms shown by the aggressive girls.

Epidemiological studies such as the one conducted by Anderson (2010, 414) reveals that conduct disorder is a severe mental disorder prevalent in adolescent girls and that leads to aggression. Aggression in females has increased in recent years because of several biological factors.

However, Anderson (2010, 415) does not unravel interaction between the causative factors and fails to identify developmental trajectories that would determine mechanisms for outcomes of aggression by the females. Similar to the aforementioned study, Rappaport & Thomas (2004, 262) have recognized that girls are exposed to biological insults as the boys are.

However, this exposure has minimum ramifications to the girls than it is to the boys. The outcomes from this study have methodological shortcomings because of relying on cross-sectional studies. With this study, it becomes a daunting task to measure prenatal exposure to aggression with precision.

Moreover, it is increasingly difficult to measure risk factors, which confound the results. Despite the aforementioned limitations, increased vulnerability of the males to various sources of stress has been revealed. It is important to outline reasons why the females are less inclined towards antisocial behaviour related to prenatal exposure.

Daffern, Howells, & Ogloff, (2007, 103) use a functional analytic approach to gauge and classify determinants and idiosyncratic functions of aggression. Such an approach has not been embraced in assessing aggression in psychiatric patients. This is notwithstanding that the methodology has demonstrated efficacy in coming up with prescriptions for problem behaviours like self-injury.

A function analytic approach is necessary for understanding problems in anger management and aggression. As part of research on antisocial behaviour and aggression, Daffern, Howells, & Ogloff (2007, 103) have developed a method to classify functions of antisocial and aggressive tendencies in aggressive patients.

The functions assessed in the study are the need to seek approval from the society, the need to force compliance, and the need to express anger among other factors. This classification enables one to recognize the functions served by aggression, some of which may be intended and most of which may influence the odds of occurrence of aggressive behaviour in the future.

Pro-Social Behaviour and Aggression

Observational studies by Ostrov, Woods, Jansen, Casas, & Crick (2004, 357) was meant to provide information on aggression in young children. Contrary to the other studies, this study has assessed the subtypes of pro-social behaviour and aggression. This study revealed that aggressive acts in children often occurred in groups of more than two children.

Children were found to possess particular behavioral styles. Particularly, the boys used physical behaviors why the girls used verbal behavior to express themselves. In general, this approach was instrumental in the discovery of subtypes of aggressive behaviors such as physical aggression, verbal aggression, nonverbal aggression, and relational aggression.

These subtypes were important indicators of mean and hostile behavior indicated in other study by Rappaport & Thomas, (2004, 265). Furthermore, Ostrov, Woods, Jansen, Casas, & Crick (2004, 356), examined, received, and delivered pro-social behavior to provide a balanced assessment of aggression in children.

The study reveals that boys and girls used different aggression tactics. The boys used physical aggression while the girls were aggressive in the manner they related with other people. Great importance can be attached to the methodology used in this study as it predicts how boys are likely to receive physical aggression while the girls were more inclined to receive relational aggression. Verbal aggression was noticed in both girls and boys while nonverbal aggression was prevalent among girls.

The disparities that exist in expressing among men and women have been articulated. Research by Ostrov, Woods, Jansen, Casas, & Crick (2004, 357) is based on a model that reflects the degree of disparities between women and men in their expression of aggression. The gender disparities in aggression have been given less attention during empirical researches.

Through this research, evidence has linked aggression and hostility to men with little information on how women tend to express aggression. These developments are based on theories on gender differences, which indicates the extent to which men are more predisposed to direct aggression while females are subjected to indirect forms of aggression.

Two models have been used to account for the gender disparities in aggression. These are the threat model and the model of social sanctions. The latter states that aggressive behaviour tends to be linked to social expectations. An examination of each of the aforementioned models determines how aggression is exhibited. The age of the individual targeted by the aggressor is a major consideration.

Rappaport & Thomas (2004, 268) have examined the effects of the gender of the aggressor and the target. Questionnaires have been used to measure subtypes of aggression. Similar to the results in the study by Anderson(2010, 34), Rappaport & Thomas (2004, 260) found out that the females reported indirect aggression than they reported direct aggression. Moreover, males and females had no disparities in indirect aggression.

In addition, the amount of aggression delivered to the females directly was not different with the one delivered to the males. The main shortcoming of this study is that the results from this study invalidated the proposed models. In the light of this, there exists the need for more research that explores gender disparities in the target and the aggressor.

Furthermore, despite the compelling insight given by both models regarding the mechanisms used to arrive at the gender disparities by both models, the models fail in exploring changes in several aspects of gender disparities. Various studies have ignored this feasible explanation.

Anderson (2010, 34-36) indicates that there is the need for observation and confirmation of how victimization and aggression affects children’s behavior. The study came up with results with evidence supporting aggression that is based on gender during childhood.

Young participants in the study provided evidence, which revealed that trajectories for aggression based on gender began in early childhood with both boys and girls experiencing and exhibiting certain levels of aggression in the pre-school years. These results are contrary to the study by Daffern, Howells, & Ogloff (2007, 112), which is based on the numerous theories of development of aggression.

These results provide important information regarding anti-social behaviors exhibited by children. Previous researches had indicated that the narrow scope of children’s social and cognitive skills, and the use of relational aggression in them was immature to some extent.

Concisely, their aggressive acts have been deemed as mainly direct and unlikely to harm other children. However, the research conducted by Rappaport & Thomas (2004, 264-266) indicates that pre-scholars show advanced and complicated aggression strategies involving gossips, rumors, and lies. These behaviors are direct but covert or subtle in nature.

The study above reveals strong evidence of the presence of aggression in children and the need for a comprehensive study on the trend. The study by Rappaport & Thomas (2004, 265) replicated another study by Daffern, Howells, & Ogloff (2007, 103), which had findings that suggested the absence of nonverbal aggression in preschoolers.

Children are open when expressing aggression in a verbal way and they tend to use insults in this form of aggression. Extra research on this subject may help in examining the findings made by the authors regarding the lack of observable disparities in verbal and nonverbal forms of aggression.


In summary, various articles on aggression have been analyzed. According to studies on aggression, aggression takes many forms and its goal is usually to hurt an individual. Several empirical studies have been examined. These studies have revealed that the motivations behind aggression are multi-faceted.

Increased homicide in a number of countries has been attributed to aggression. In industrialized countries, aggression has been exacerbated by easy access to dangerous weapons such as rifles. Global warming and exposure to a violent media are also some of the causes of increased aggression in these countries. Recommendations in these studies indicated that aggressive behavior might soon find appropriate treatment.


Anderson, CA & Bushman, BJ 2002, ‘Human aggression’ Annual Review of Psychology, vol. 53, no.1, pp. 27-51.

Anderson, M 2010, ‘Reconceptualizing Aggression’ Duke Law Journal, vol.60, no.2, pp. 411-451.

Daffern, M, Howells, K, & Ogloff, J 2007, ‘What’s the point? Towards a methodology for assessing the function of psychiatric inpatient aggression. Behaviour Research and Therapy, vol.45, no.1, pp. 101–111.

Ostrov, JM, Woods, KE, Jansen, EA, Casas, JF, & Crick, NR 2004, ‘An observational study of delivered and received aggression,gender, and social-psychological adjustment in preschool:“This White Crayon Doesn’t Work… ”, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, vol.19, no.1, pp. 355–371.

Rappaport, N & Thomas, C 2004, ‘Recent Research Findings on Aggressive and Violent Behavior in Youth: Implications for Clinical,’ Journal Of Adolescent Health, vol.35, no.4, pp. 260–277.

Richardson, SD, & Green, LR 2003, ‘Defining direct and indirect aggression: The Richardson Conflict Response Questionnaire,’ International Review of Social Psychology, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 11-30.

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