Agression - Are We Born Agressive Or Is It Learned

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Are we born aggressive or do we lean to be aggressive? There is much debate among psychologists as to whether we are born aggressive or learn to become so, with an abundance of evidence supporting both ideas. In this essay I intend to present and evaluate both sides of this argument in order to gain a clear picture of these two points of view.

The biological side of the argument states that the difference between aggressive and non-aggressive individuals is due to differences in the genes.

Throughout the centuries, ideas about the biological influence on aggression have changed and developed. For example, in the 19th century, It was thought that body types played the main role. This fits the modern stereotypes of 'thugs' i.e., well built, deep set eyes etc….In the 20th century and into this one, it is thought that there are three main factors influencing an individual to be aggressive; neuroanatomical factors (brain), neurochemical factors (chemical imbalances, testosterone levels etc…), and genetics.

Firstly, The important areas in the brain for affecting aggressive behaviour are the pre-frontal cortex, the hypothalamus and the amygdala. In 1976, Moyer conducted studies that showed that electrical stimulation and lesions in these areas could increase or decrease aggression. He also found that differences between individuals in any of these areas (caused by trauma, disease etc…) affected their aggressive tendency. Whether noticeable changes occur as a result of these differences depends on situational factors. Studies done on animals have shown that the same level of stimulation triggering aggression against a small opponent may not trigger aggression against a larger one.

There are two main chemicals in the body that affect aggression; Seratonin and Testosterone.

Seratonin is a neurotransmitter involved in inhibiting impulsive responses to frustration.

Knoblich and King, in 1992 found that a decrease in...