chapter  2
20 Pages

Theories of aggressive behaviour

Aggressive behaviour directed at fighting off attackers as well as rivals in mate selection is seen as adaptive in the sense of enhancing the reproductive success of the aggressor. This chapter looks at three models that refer to biological principles in explaining aggression: the ethological approach, the sociobiological approach, and the behaviour genetic approach. The sociobiological argument holds that aggression has evolved because it is instrumental in enhancing the reproductive success of an individual. The distinction is crucial if the aim is to determine the heritability of aggressive behaviour in particular rather than of antisocial or deviant behaviour in general. Acts of instrumental aggression carried out to achieve a particular goal, such as robbing a bank to resolve a desperate financial situation, do not necessarily entail a previous frustration. The chapter describes the importance of cognitive processes in the formation of an aggressive response.