What is Aggression? its meaning, Nature and Causes

In psychology, the term aggression refers to a range of behaviors that can result in both physical and psychological harm to yourself, others, or objects in the environment. This type of behavior centers on harming another person either physically or mentally. In general terms it may be defined as the act of beginning a quarrel, accidentally injuring someone or attempting and committing suicide.

According to Baron and Byrne: Aggression is Behavior directed towards the goal of harming another living being who is motivated to avoid such treatment.

Atkinson and Smith et al: defined Aggression is a  Behavior intended to injure someone physically or verbally or destroy someone.

Ellis (1976) considered positive aggression to be healthy, productive behaviour if it promoted the basic values of survival, protection, happiness, social acceptance, preservation, and intimate relations.

(Bandura, 1973). defined negative aggression,  as acts that result in personal injury or destruction of property.


The nature of human aggression is viewed from four explanatory perspectives, derived from the ethological tradition.

The first consists of its adaptive value, which can be seen throughout the animal kingdom, involving resource competition and protection of the self and offspring, which has been viewed from a cost-benefit perspective. T

The second concerns the phylogenetic origin of aggression, which in humans involves brain mechanisms that are associated with anger and inhibition, the emotional expression of anger, and how aggressive actions are manifest.

The third concerns the origin of aggression in development and its subsequent modification through experience. An evolutionary approach to development yields conclusions that are contrary to the influential social learning perspective, notably that physical aggression occurs early in life, and its subsequent development is characterized by learned inhibition.

The fourth explanation concerns the motivational mechanisms controlling aggression: approached from an evolutionary background, these mechanisms range from the inflexible reflex-like responses to those incorporating rational decision-making.

Theories of aggression 


Many things can shape your behavior. These can include your:

1.Biological Causes

    1. Brain dysfunction,
    2. Testosterone- higher levels of testosterone
    3. Serotonin-  lower levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin
    4. Birth complications, and
    5. Nutrition deficiency (Factors include food additives, hypoglycemia, cholesterol, and deficiencies in protein, iron, and zinc).

2. Environmental Stressors

    1. Temperature rises
    2. Crowding
    3. Noise

3. Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis

According to some theorists like Dollard, Doob,  Miller, etc. frustration always leads to aggressive behaviors.

4. Social Learning Theory of Aggression-

Bandura and Walter believed that observational learning, especially imitation of social models is the basis of human aggression.

5. According to Lorenz’s Theory of Aggression-

There are six types of innate aggression –Usually, occur between members of different species.

    1. Predatory – It is the attack by the predator on the prey.
    2. Mobbing – It occurs when the prey counterattacks in force against a predator.
    3. Mobbing – It occurs when the prey counterattacks in force against a predator.

Usually, occur between members of the same species.

      1. Territorial– It is the fight of an animal to protect its territory.
      2. Rival Fights – It occurs when animals (mostly males) fight for a mate.
      3. Brood Defense – It is the protective reaction to possible threat to an organism’s offspring.

6. Parental Rearing Style

7. Difficulties with Friends and at School

8. Provocation

As an adult, you might act aggressively in response to negative experiences. For example, you might get aggressive when you feel frustrated. Your aggressive behavior may also be linked to depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other mental health conditions.



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