Three Different Theories of Aggression in Media

Summarize the three different theories of aggression.

Theories of Aggression:

Ever felt you need to kick some people’s butt, yet you couldn’t and had to kick the wall instead? Ever wondered why a three year old yells and screams like an adult? Every wondered why a parent of any kind (human/animal) would possibly kill for any sign of a threat?

It’s simple.

It’s aggression in three of its kinds;

Frustration-Aggression theory

Social Learning theory

Aggression as an instinct – theories of aggression

I personally am very interested in aggression as I could be quite aggressive myself. Aggression: Is any action that’s intended to cause harm. Be it verbal or physical.

There are two types of aggression, and they are;

  • Hostile/hot aggression: Is to do something aggressive and get some sort of satisfaction from it. Perhaps, planning someone’s murder or robbing a bank. You get some sort of emotional reward from it.
  • Instrumental/cold aggression: Is basically to do act in an aggressive way to preserve some kind of environmental reward out of it, such as; fighting for survival in a war.

Aggression Theories

Frustration-theories of aggression

The frustration aggression theory states that aggression is caused by frustration. When someone is prevented from reaching his target he becomes frustrated. This frustration can then turn into aggression when something triggers it.

For example, if you failed in your final exam you will definitely become frustrated But What if someone you barley know told you “You are such a loser not to pass that exam”. In this case, your stored frustration will surely turn into aggression. Note that the frustration aggression theory does not provide explanation to all types of aggression but it rather focuses on aggression that results from not being able to reach your goals.


Your boss have just mistreated you and told you that you’re a no-good-doer in his/her company, and there was nothing you could do, after all, he/she is the boss, and you’re the employee.

You meet your friend for dinner at night, and the two of you talk, and your friend talks about how good his/her day was, and you suddenly stand up off your chair, it falls back, and you start yelling at your friend about how selfish, and full of themselves and their so-called good life!

What happened in this scenario is that you have been frustrated from the situation you have been earlier today with your boss, so what you ended up doing is displace your anger toward a a safer target. This is called Displacement.

This is the Frustration-Aggression theory.

Social Learning theory

“Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.”

-Albert Bandura, Social Learning Theory, 1977

What is Social Learning Theory?

The social learning theory proposed by Albert Bandura has become perhaps the most influential theory of learning and development. While rooted in many of the basic concepts of traditional learning theory, Bandura believed that direct reinforcement could not account for all types of learning.

His theory added a social element, arguing that people can learn new information and behaviors by watching other people. Known as observational learning (or modeling), this type of learning can be used to explain a wide variety of behaviors.

Basic Social Learning Concepts

There are three core concepts at the heart of social learning theory. First is the idea that people can learn through observation. Next is the idea that internal mental states are an essential part of this process. Finally, this theory recognizes that just because something has been learned, it does not mean that it will result in a change in behavior.


A (lets say 6 years old) kids lives in an environment where he hears adults screams all the time, and hit one another. The next day he goes to school, and yells at the kids in his classmates, and shove them up the wall.

Kids tend to learn and observe adults that they copy what they do inside and outside their homes.

This is the Social Learning theory.

Aggression as an instinct –theories of aggression

The theory that human aggression is an innate biological drive similar to sex and hunger. As such, it cannot be eliminated, but must be controlled, for the good of society. The theory is based on observations of non-human species in which aggression is used to maintain territory and fighting is necessary for survival. The theory supports the contentious notion that sport acts as a catharsis providing a safe and socially acceptable outlet for aggression.

An issue which continually plagues social scientists is whether mankind behaves according to environmental or genetic factors. One aspect of behavior that has considerable impact on global society is that of aggression. Thus, the question becomes, is aggression an instinct? Human aggression not only plagues society within, in such aspects as crime, but without in the guise of war. Some have gone so far as to state that man is the cruelest and most ruthless species that has ever walked the earth.1

Political scientists often argue that by its very nature, the modern bureaucratic state engenders war. They believe that man’s inherent aggression and competitiveness has been increased by political systems which thrive on conflict in order to express their hegemony.2

Of course, mankind has been engaged in warfare for as long as recorded history documents. Psychologically, scholars such as Sigmund Freud believed that humans are born violent, while others, Carl G. Jung for instance, have shown that violent expressions within society are often mirrored within the psyche itself.3

Because war is such an integral part of the contemporary world, this paper will discuss the experience of war from the perspective of a national politician, and average citizen, and the President of the United States. To conclude the work, the paper will synthesize common attitudes about warfare and ask some pertinent questions about the future of man’s aggressive behaviors.


Eventually, the last theory is known to be instinctive, and innate, and part of our genes. For example, you have two male mammals fighting for one female, and the best gets the female mammal. In terms of human beings, it’s fighting for survival. You’re being attacked by someone, or getting raped, it’s only natural you’ll fight back for your life and maintain your existence.

This is the Instinctive-Aggression Theory.

Some of the things that could cause aggression;

  • Watching Violent movies
  • Heat
  • Alcohol
  • Gender

In terms of gender, men are more likely to be aggressive physically as they would be fighting with their fists. But women are more likely to be aggressive verbally, in terms of gossiping, spreading rumors…etc.


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