Case Examples in Social Psychology Part IV

Photo Credit: American Psychological Association

Photo Credit: American Psychological Association

By Dr. Monique M. Chouraeshkenazi

  (1) One act of aggression reduces the likelihood of further acts of aggression is predicated on Catharsis Aggressive theory. This theoretical paradigm is the concept of an individuals’ behavior patterns through aggression and positive reinforcement. The idea of the theory is that an individual who vents will produce a more positive reaction in his/her psychological state (Bushman, 2002). The term, catharsis, derives from the Greek word katharsis, which means cleansing or purging (Lear, 1988). Catharsis Aggressive theory is the most suitable because it discusses the conceptualization of its existence because the actions of aggression or even viewing signs of hostility can mitigate such feelings, mitigating the chances of psychological disorders (Aronson & Aronson, 2012). According to research studies, aggression is a constructive way to suppress physical acts of aggression and violence against others, as it is not good to suppress such feelings and emotions. Subduing emotions can lead to psychological issues, which can lead to negative effects.  

(2) Bushman and Bonacci (2002) conducted an experiment to determine how individuals reacted to violent and explicit content, which was considered the distraction, as the focus was based on advertisements for specific products. Participants watched nine television advertisements that were placed between violent, sexually perspicuous, and unbiased content. Approximately 24 hours later, participants were contacted to determine if they remembered the commercial advertisements. Studies showed women and men, who had unbiased content during TV programming, remembered the products advertised (Bushman & Bonacci, 2002). Those who watched violent and sexually insidious content were distracted, failing to remember the products advertised in the commercials. Researchers hypothesized that violent and sexually explicit advertisements could negatively impact business sales for products. 

            The reason for this outcome can be explained through the idea of rumination and distraction. Rumination is the conceptualization of “self-attention” (Aronson & Aronson, 2012). This behavior can cause aggression and/or impair behavior, which can lead to distraction of natural temperament or even recollection. By showing distracting content (i.e. violent and sexually explicit), participants could have been aggressive, angered, or possibility aroused by what they saw. The distraction prevented them from the purpose of recollecting the commercial advertisements. 

(3) Malamuth (1986) conducted a conjectural and experimental study to investigate various facets of sexual aggression of males against women. This study was predicated on Bandura’s social learning theory and specific models that pertained to sexual aggression through naturalistic sites. Participants were recruited through various universities, advertisements, and through employment organizations. Those selected were based on the prediction of sexual aggression through motivation, internal and external inhibition, and those that consent to an occurring action (Malamuth, 1986, para. 1). Predictors were predicated on psychological state, sexual arousal response, dominance, hostility, violence against the female population, and factors (Malamuth, 1986, para. 1). Results found a significant number of male participants showed signs of sexual aggression. Those that were sexually aggressive also showed signs of multiple predictors that were considerations for the research. 

(4) I believe the matter with exposure to and participation in aggressive behavior depends on an individual case-by-case basis. For example, if I am confronted with an aggressive situation, I like to exercise. Weight lifting and going out for a run outside is very therapeutic and a nice distraction from issues. Plus, I like how I feel after the workout, which is the distraction from aggression. However, there are some people that must be physically aggressive to release their hostilities for various reasons. Aronson and Aronson (2012) cited how model, Shalom Harlow, releases anger through boxing with her personal trainer. That is a positive way to release aggressive behavior and it is encouraged when certain individuals have difficulty handling or processing aggressive scenarios; it is when becoming confrontational and physically aggression with another person that becomes the problem. 

            There are other factors that should be considered before agreeing that aggressive behavior can be beneficial for releasing hostile behaviors. Some people have biological, psychological, behavioral, and emotional disorders and exposure to aggression can make them more sensitive over others. Jhangiani and Hammand (n.d.) argued that aggression is controlled by a specific part of the brain, the amygdala.The amygdala is responsible for responses and observations of fear and aggression. If this part of the brain is damaged or significantly impacted, it can influence an individual’s behavior and response. However, there have been much debate on whether this issue of releasing aggression through aggressive behavior is logical. Since there have been inconsistencies with experiential studies about this issue, scholars have questioned if the ideal of catharsis theory is legitimate. Tavris (1988) argued that the catharsis hypothesis is unreliable and that individuals observed violence to suppress aggression has not been validated by research studies. I would have to conclude that there should be additional research conducted to include internal and external factors when deciding on aggressive behavior matters. 

(5) Human aggression is the continuum of physical and psychological, individual behaviors that can be harmful. Researchers have conducted various studies predicated on notable theories (i.e. major domain-limited, cognitive neoassociation, social learning, social interaction, and so forth) (Anderson & Bushman, 2002, p. 27). Reducing human aggression can be based on two methods of reasoning in psychology: physical activity and treatment. Stevens (2018) suggest anything from sports to be interactive are great sources of relieving stress and diminishing aggression. If physical activity is not a viable solution, individuals can seek treatment, especially behavior is severe. There are many health professionals that can observe, analyze, and determine if there are additional underlying factors in aggressive behavior and how it can be treated. 


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Aronson, J. & Aronson, E. (eds.). (2012). Readings About the Social Animal. (11thed). p. 250.

New York: NY. Worth Publishers. 

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            distraction, anger, and aggressive responding. University of Michigan. Retrieved from 

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Bushman, B. J. & Bonacci, A. M. (2002). Violence and sex impair memory for television ads. 

            National Institutes of Health, 87(3), pp. 557-564. 

Jhangiani, R. Dr. & Tarry, H. Dr. (n.d.). The biological and emotional causes of aggression.

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Lear, J. (1988). Phronesis: A Journal for ancient philosophy. JSTOR, (33)3, pp. 297-326. 

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effects of television. pp. 189-197. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.