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Analyzing the Relationship between Frustration & Aggression Report


Although the phenomena of human anger and aggression have been of scientific interest for many years (Lange 60), academics and practitioners argue that they have gained particular prominence in recent years, given the high incidents of school and domestic related violence (Fives et al 199). Today, more than ever, mainstream media outlets are often flooded with reports of people who go berserk when exposed to minimal provocation, while others go to the extent of murdering their childhood friends and workmates in range.

A recent trend observed by researchers is that frustrating experiences, especially among the youth, are increasingly acting as predictors to aggressive behavior rather than consequents to aggression (Harenski et al 402). The interest of this topic, therefore, stems from the need to explicate why frustration is increasingly playing the role of predictor to aggressive behavior.

As acknowledged in the literature, “…decades of research on the etiology of individual differences in overt aggressive behavior have pointed to the importance of temperament and interplay of biological and environmental factors” (Deater-Deckard et al 992).

This assertion points out to three possible predictors of overt aggression – genetic factors, environmental influences, as well as negative affectivity (e.g., frustration or anger). Some environmental influences, such as lack of understanding from parents and peers, disciplinary issues in school as well as conflict of interests, have been known to enhance aggressive predispositions in children and adolescents (Fives et al 200).

For example, an adolescent who feels that he or she is not understood by parents may engage in aggressive behavior triggered by the immediate environmental influence of not been understood. However, available literature suggests that such aggression is reactive and spontaneous, implying that it is not planned (Lange 60).

Another strand of literature reveals that “…psychopaths show high levels of reactive aggression due to their increased susceptibility for experiencing frustration” (Harenski et al 401). These authors further posit that the enhanced vulnerability to frustrating experiences originates from cognitive deficiencies in stimulus-reinforcement learning and response reversal, leading to repetitive unproductive goal-directed actions that are frustrating to the psychopath.

It may therefore be argued that normal persons experiencing lapses in their cognition, particularly after injuring their ventromedial prefrontal cortex, may be prone to ‘acting out of character’ after exposure to frustrating experiences, leading to aggression (Harenski et al 401. Such individuals, it seems, are never able to apply behavior learnt in childhood to control the situation due to abrupt cognitive impairments in their stimulus-reinforcement mechanism.

The discussed instances have demonstrated how frustration is rapidly becoming a predictor to aggression rather than its consequent. It is important to note that aggression has far-reaching ramifications on the social life of the individual concerned as well as the society he or she resides in. Reactive aggression triggered by environmental incidences not only makes social interactions with significant others impossible, but also acts as a barrier to inclusion in social activities affecting the community (Deater-Deckard et al 995).

Parents of aggressive children live in fear and record heightened stress levels than the general population because they are not sure how their children will behave in different environmental scenarios (Dill et al 359). It is therefore important to look into this topic in more detail, with the view to develop interventions that could be used to assist people faced with this type of aggression cope with their frustrating experiences without reaching a breaking point.

Works Cited

Deater-Deckard, Kirby, Charles Beekman, Zhe Wang, Jungmeen Kim, Stephen Petrill, Lee Thompson and Laura DeThorne. “Approach/Positive Anticipation, Frustration/Anger, and Overt Aggression in Childhood.” Journal of Personality. 78.3 (2010): 991-1010. Academic Search Premier. Web.

Dill, Judy C., and Craig A. Anderson. “Effects of Frustration Justification on Hostile Aggression.” Aggressive Behavior. 25.5 (1995): 359-369. Academic Search Premier. Web.

Fives, Christopher J., Grace Kong, J. Ryan Fuller and Raymond DiGiuseppe. “Anger, Aggression, and Irrational Beliefs in Adolescents.” Cognitive Therapy and Research. 35.3 (2011): 199-208. Academic Search Premier. Web.

Harenski, Carla L., & Kent A. Kiew. “Reactive Aggression in Psychopathy and the Role of Frustration: Susceptibility, Experience and Control.” British Journal of Psychology. 101.3 (2010): 401-406. Academic Search Premier. Web.

Lange, Freddy. “Frustration – Aggression. A Reconsideration.” European Journal of Social Psychology. 1.1 (1971): 59-84. Academic Search Premier. Web.

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