chapter
"maze",
Pages 25

The importance of knowing the conditions of learning can be illustrated from a common personality problem, i.e.,· that of aggressive individuals. Individual aggressiveness has often been supposed to be natural, or instinctive. In one group of aggressive persons, it is quite clear that social conditions have influenced the development of this personality trait. These are persons who have recently been socially mobile.! In the course of struggle for social advancement, these mobile individuals have found frequent occasion for aggressive responses. They have, for instance, competed in business with cut-throat severity, but have been rewarded Qy success. They have boldly copied the manners and habits of those above them in social position and, though often ridiculed, have often succeeded in achieving higher status. They have learned to strive, compete, and fight, where others have .quietly accepted deprivations, and they have lived to see themselves superior. Since competitive and aggressive habits have been so highly and consistently rewarded, it is not surprising to find such persons displaying aggression in a great variety of situations. Seen.,in this context, the "pushiness" of the mobile person is not mysterious; it seems rather the inevitable result of the learning conditions of his life. The social structure of our society is so designed that it grants rewards to those who fight for them ; in the course of so doing, it creates combative individuals. A psychologist understanding these conditions might well go on to I make the following prediction: If the .aggressive individual achieves status in a social group higher than his own, and if in

the l1igher group his " pushiness" is no longer rewarded but is, on the contrary, punished, such a trait will tend to drop outalthougll it may distinguisl1 the recently mobile person during the tin1c l1e is becoming adapted to the superior group.