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To What Extent Is Human Aggression Innate and to What Extent Is It Learned?

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Human aggression is innate to an extent and can be learned

It is believed that the capability to be aggressive towards others is a part of our biological function which is called the innate aggressive tendency of human being. Ultimately our motives are to maintain and enhance our lifestyle and survive on earth for which if necessary, we become aggressive to prevent other from harming us or the persons we are close to. We also might be aggressive towards others if it means that we will gain access to useful possessions like food, shelter, mates to reproduce or even if we think our social condition is threatened. Hence if aggression helps with achieving the social and biologicals needs of human on earth to survive, the natural selection process will pass on the genes to be so that we have the skills to aggress to exist.

Nonetheless, considering that we can aggress does not make it right that we aggress in every situation. It is not an important evolutionary adaptive feature to use aggression in almost every circumstance. Because if the other person who is being attacked or feel violated, aggresses back, it would be harmful for both the party. Hence neither animal nor humans are always aggressive, they only become aggressive when it is needed. From the primitive age, humans had to use many kinds of violence or hostile behavior for existence which is why it can be said that aggression is a part of our genetics. We are aggressive if given the situation or environment where our survival is at stake. But how much does our aggression is biologically expressed and how much it is learned that is the real issue. And this essay will discuss about aggression, how much it is influenced innately and to what extent it is learned by explaining the biological function and the social factors ( (Jhangiani & Tarry, Principles of Social Psychology – 1st International Edition, 2014)

There are some of the notable biological factors that control our aggression behavior. Largely aggression is controlled by an area of the brain part called amygdala. It is a region which is responsible for monitoring our perceptions of and reaction to aggression and fear. The amygdala is connected to other body systems related to fear, sympathetic nervous systems, facial responses, the smell processing and the release of neurotransmitters associated with aggression and fear. Besides that, it also helps us learn from fear. The amygdala is activated in response to positive event and negative events, especially to stimuli that we perceive as threatening and fear arousing. Whenever we face any danger or violent situation, the amygdala sends signals to the brain to recognize the details of the conditions so that we learn to avoid it in the future. Even though amygdala aids us to perceive and counter to danger, it can also direct us to be aggressive. There are other parts of the brain that functions to control our aggressive behavior. This mechanism that helps us balance our aggression and negative emotions is a neural connection between amygdala and regions of the prefrontal cortex. If the prefrontal cortex of the brain is highly activated, we are more capable of dominating our aggressive thoughts and activities. However, researchers have found that the cerebral cortex in death row inmates, murderers is less, implying that violent behavior is caused due to failure of reduced ability to managing the emotions i.e. the regions that impact aggression, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. So, the tendency to act aggressive or violent can be increased if one of these regions have individual differences or interconnections among them

Hormones are also a significant biological factor which impacts our aggressive behavior, more specifically the male sex hormone testosterone, which is correlated with elevated level of aggression in both humans and animals. Although researchers have found association between levels of testosterone and aggression through experiments, this connection appears to be weaker amidst human than among animals but is still important to be discussed. Despite that the testosterone levels are lower in women, the connection between aggression and testosterone is not only limited to males. Studies have proved an affirmative result related to the relationship of both the hormone and aggression in women and even though they have lower levels of testosterone, they are more impacted by smaller changes in these levels than are men.

In one of the studies that shows that the hormone affects the aggressive behavior is an experiment done by James and his colleagues. They measured the testosterone levels of 240 men who were members of 12 fraternities at two different universities. Before the experiments they collected data from both fraternities. The researchers corresponded the testosterone levels and the description of each of the fraternities. They found that the fraternities that had the highest level of testosterones levels were wild and unruly and in one case was known for their crudeness of behavior. Where on the other hand, the fraternities who had lower level of testosterone levels were more friendly, well-behaved, responsible and excel in academics. One more study found that prisoners and juvenile delinquents acted more aggressively who have high levels of testosterones. This hormone also affetcs physical development for example, strength of the muscle, height and body mass that impacts our ability to aggress opportunely.

It should be noted that the inspected relationships between testosterone and aggression that is proved by the experiments does not prove that the hormone itself is the cause for aggression, it is only correlational. As a matter of fact, the influence of aggression on testosterone is seemingly stronger than the effect of testosterone on aggression as engaging in aggression



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