Theories on Aggression

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The Theoretical Development of Aggression

Aggression and violence affect society in a variety of ways. It is the general consensus that our society is becoming increasingly more violent. However, it is shocking to realize the amount of violence that is committed by teenagers, or even younger children. It is becoming not uncommon to pick up the local newspaper and read about a child, or group of children, that has committed a horrifying atrocity to other human beings. With each horrendous story the reader becomes desensitized to the violence in our world.

Violence is an epidemic in our country. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (1994), there were 6.6 million violent crimes in 1992, 13% of which involved handguns. The number of violent crimes reached its peak in 1981, but has stayed relatively constant since then. Teenagers and young adults aged 16-24 consistently have the highest rate of violent crime, compared to other age groups (U.S.

Department of Justice, 1994). Our society is becoming increasingly violent. Aggression in children is related to violence in adulthood. Haapasalo and Tremblay (1994) showed that one could predict delinquency in a child quite accurately by examining earlier aggression.

It is important to understand to nature of the relationship between aggression, delinquency, and violence. Moffett, Caspi, Dickenson, Silva, and Stanton (1996) suggested that most serious forms of antisocial behavior have an origin in aggression during early childhood. Lynam (1996) also found chronic offenders can be identified early in childhood, due to their high level of aggression at an early age. While Loeber and Stouthamer-Loeber (1998) question the validity of these conclusions, I believe that an aggressive child will be an aggressive, and possibly violent, adult.

Aggression is an area of social psychology on which much research is focused. Social and developmental psychologists have tried to...