Psych 456/556
Questions to Ponder for May 8, 2002

1. What is Aronson's definition of aggression? Do you agree with it? If not, how would you change it? Do you agree with his distinction between hostile and instrumental aggression? How clear is difference between the two?

2. What are the various pieces of evidence for and against aggression as instinctual behavior?

3. How is aggression adaptive? How is it not adaptive?

4. What is catharsis? Does it work to reduce aggression?

5. How can attributions result in escalating aggression? Where does retaliation fit into the model?

6. What kind of pornography appears to be most linked to violent behavior? Are there circumstances under which pornography is more likely to lead to violent behavior? What evidence does the text provide that rape is a crime of violence and not passion?

7. Explain the role of frustration in aggression.

8. Why is it difficult to determine causal relationships between the type of punishment a person received as a child and his or her level of aggression as an adult?

9. Do one of the following and think about what you observed: a) Observe children on a playground or other play setting. What examples of aggression do you see? What appears to precede aggression? How is it settled? Who are the "winners"? What other interesting patterns can you note? b) Watch a television show that is known for its violence. Under what circumstances does violence occur on the show? (Is there a pattern?) Who are the perpetrators? In what ways are the incidents like real life and in what ways are they different?

Bushman, Baumeister & Stack, 1999

1. What is catharsis? How is it supposed to reduce aggression?

2. Is there empirical evidence of catharsis for aggression? Are popular media reports consistent with empirical findings?

3. What is a self-defeating prophecy? How does it differ from a self-fulfilling prophecy? What would constitute a self-defeating prophecy in the Bushman, Baumeister and Stack study?

4. How was anger manipulated in Study 1? Was anger manipulated in Study 2?

5. What was the dependent variable in Study 1? What results did the authors find? Why was it important that these results were found only among angered participants?

6. What was the main measure of aggression in Study 2? Who showed the most aggression? Did this hold across all trials or just the first ones?

7. Did it make a difference whether the target of aggression was direct or displaced? Why is this important?

8. Did the authors find evidence of catharsis in Study 2?

9. Given what you know about effect size, probability and sample size (if you've forgotten what you know, review your notes from stats or methods), what can you conclude about the effect sizes in this study? (To help you, the authors actually report their effect sizes for most of the results.)

10. How might inaccurate media messages about the benefits of catharsis actually contribute to GREATER levels of aggression? (hint: frustration)