Prevention and Reducing Aggression

As a complex social behavior, aggression is an outcome of interaction between personal and interpersonal, social and cultural factors. It is expressed in overt behavior when triggered by some situational amd environmental variables. Thus, social psychologists have proposed a number of stategies in order to reduce or control aggressive behavior.


Ways of Reducing Aggression


In most societies throughout the world, punishment is a major technique for reducing aggression.

People who engage in such behavior receive large fines, are put in prison, and in some countries are placed in solitary confinement or receive physical punishment for their aggressive actions.

In many cases, this involves spending time in prison, but in some locations, extreme cases of violence such as mass murder may result in capital punishment—legal execution of the convicted criminals. Why do so many societies punish aggressive acts? Basically, for two major reasons (e.g., Darley, Carlsmith, & Robinson, 2000).

First, there is a widespread belief that individuals who engage in acts of aggression, society views them as inappropriate in their societies. They deserve punishment. They have inflicted harm on others— and on society in general—and should suffer to make amends for this harm.

This perspective suggests that the amount of punishment people should receive should be matched to the magnitude of harm they have caused.

The second reason for punishing people who commit aggressive actions is to deter them (or others) from engaging in such behavior in the future. This is based on the social learning theory. Positive or negative reinforcement technique induces get favorable outcome. Similarly, punishment  avoids negative outcome, in this case, aggression.


When a child threw temper tantrums, his grandmother greeted those temper tantrums by saying, “That’s OK darling, let it out . . . don’t keep it bottled up inside—that’s bad for you.” In other words, she was a true believer in the catharsis hypothesisthe view that if individuals give vent to their anger and hostility in nonharmful ways, it reduces their tendencies to engage in more dangerous types of aggression (Dollard et al., 1939).

It is the expression and letting out of aggression in a relatively non-harmful way.

However, research findings state that these effects are only temporary.

Cognitive Strategies

Aggression operates through 3 different routes – affect, cognition and arousal. There is a significant interaction among these 3 components of the internal state of a person. COgnitive strategies to reducing aggression suggests that breaking the cycle of aggressive thought process may promote in reducig aggressive tendencies and bbehavior. Apology is one of the most simple strategy to reduce aggression.


  • Baron, R. A. and Byrne, D. (1997). Social Psychology, 8th edition. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon

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