Aggressive behaviour

Research into aggression and the environment have centred on three main areas of the environment. These areas are noise, Temperature and Crowding. I shall be discussing these three areas and reviewing their validity. The first area is crowding. Crowding states that aggressive behaviour occurs when a person becomes part of a collective group of people and therefore loses there inhibitions, effectively becoming deindividuated and this then may lead to aggressive behaviour taking place. Deindividuation can occur when a person is part of a crowd or when the person's identity is disguised.

There are studies to support this theory that aggressive behaviour may be caused by crowds / crowding. One study is by Cox et al. (1984) who researched prison conditions and found a correlation between density and violence. When density was reduced by 30%, there was a 60% decrease in violence in the prison. Also, when density was increased by 20%, a 36% increase in violence / assaults followed. In other research he also found that there was more rioting and violent crimes committed in high density prisons as opposed to low density prisons.

However, this study is low in ecological validity as it was researched in prison surroundings and therefore we cannot generalise to a wider community. This study shows a link between aggression and crowding but does not show whether deindividuation has occurred. Cox's study is supported by Stokols (1976) who identified three conceptual perspectives that may explain why crowding might lead to increased aggression. These three concepts are stimulus overload, behavioural constraints and the ecological model.

When is a crowd, a person's sensor will be working more than normal with increased people to look at, increased noise etc... and this may cause the individual to reach a sensory overload and exceed their ability to cope with all that they are asked, leading to negative consequences (EG: aggressive behaviour). The second perspective is behavioural constraints. This suggest that when our behaviour is constricted for some reason (EG: in a traffic jam) we may become frustrated and this will lead to aggression.

This research is supported by the 'frustration aggression hypothesis' by Dolard (1976) The third perspective is the ecological model. This states that high density will produce negative consequences as crowds will cause a lack of resources for the crowd and this will lead to aggressive behaviour as we strive for the resources (EG: fighting for food). This perspective is supported by the Sociobiological theory which states that every animal must try to maximise its fitness, even if this involves being aggressive for food or resources.

This theory is hard to prove or disprove as there have been no studies into this theory and therefore it is personal opinion as to whether this theory is correct or not. Another explanation of aggressive behaviour and environmental factors is temperature. Temperature states that when at times of high temperature, violence increases also. People may become frustrate by the hot weather and this leads to aggressive behaviour. This is again supported by Dolards 'frustration aggression hypothesis'.

More supporting evidence is found by the 'US riot commision report' of 1968 which found that all but one riots in 1967 happened when temperature was above 27 OC. Goranson and King (1970) also showed that riots were more likely to occur in hot summers. Baron (1976) found that drivers were more likely to use the horns in their cars in temperature exceeding 29 0C (excluding air-conditioned cars). Anderson & Anderson (1984) found that the giher the temperature, the higher the amount of rapes and violent crimes