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NCJ Number
L Berkowitz
Date Published
506 pages
This wide-ranging discussion of the social psychology of human aggression examines the findings of behavioral research about conditions and circumstances that promote anger and aggression.
Emphasizing that aggression takes numerous forms and has many causes, the author distinguishes between instrumental aggression (assaults carried out to benefit the attacker in some way) and emotional aggression. He points out that instrumental and emotional aggression have different origins and aims and are best controlled in different ways. Although attention is paid to conditions that promote deliberate instrumental aggression, the author also shows that many assaults are highly emotional acts. Consideration is given to conceptions of emotion and the nature of anger, and a new theory of factors affecting impulsive aggression is offered. The author summarizes what behavioral scientists have learned about the nature of highly aggressive personalities and the family and childhood backgrounds of individuals who are disposed to violent, antisocial behavior. He also reports important studies of the effects of violence depicted in the mass media. In discussing conditions that lead to child abuse, spouse battering, and murder, the author identifies such risk factors as childhood experiences, frustration, poverty, personal and social stresses, and external events and situations that bring hostile ideas to mind. He also examines biological influences, such as hereditary factors, hormones, and alcohol, that promote aggressive tendencies. Reviewing studies of the use of punishment and such legal controls as the death penalty and gun control laws, the author discusses how socially destructive behavior can be reduced. He presents research on the effectiveness of various psychological procedures, including cathartic methods, instrumental training, and cognitive and anger control techniques. References, notes, tables, and figures


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