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Frustration-aggression hypothesis

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The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis

1. The frustration-aggression hypothesis was proposed by Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mower, and Sears (1939). According to this view, frustration, which is defined as "the state that emerges when circumstances interfere with a goal response," often leads to aggression.

2. In some situations, frustration does augment the likelihood of aggression. Buss (1963) had college students experience one of three types of frustration (failure to win money, failure to earn a better grade, or failure on a task). All three groups showed more subsequent aggression than a control group that was not frustrated.

3. Research indicates that frustration is more likely to lead to aggression if the aggressive behavior helps to eliminate the frustration.

4. The amount of frustration and subsequent aggression depends on how near the individual is to the goal when they are blocked. Harris (1974) and her confederates purposely cut in front of people standing in line at movies, grocery stores, etc. If they cut ahead of a person second in line, they were much more likely to elicit verbal aggression than if they cut ahead of someone twelfth in line.

5. Frustration does not inevitably result in aggression. It is important to identify the circumstances under which frustration will end in aggression.

Berkowitz's Revision of the Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis

1. Berkowitz contends that aggression is the result of an interaction between an internal emotional state and cues that are available in the environment. Frustration alone is not sufficient to produce aggression. A frustrating experience creates a readiness to aggress. Whether aggression will occur depends on stimulus cues.

2. Leyens and Parke (1975) showed some students slides of guns and other students slides of aggressively neutral objects. Later, all subjects were given the opportunity to aggress against another person. Since a gun is an aggressive cue, Berkowitz would predict that students who saw slides of the gun would behave in a more aggressive manner. The findings supported Berkowitz's analysis and have been used in the "gun control" debate. To quote Berkowitz on the weapons effect, "Guns not only permit violence, they can stimulate it as well. The finger pulls the trigger, but the trigger may also be pulling the finger." Some investigators have replicated the weapons effect while others have not.

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