Causes for development of hostility in children

Aggression can be loosely defined as any behaviour which is intended to harm another person whether in physical form or verbally. This research specifically evaluates the natural and learning point of view of psychology accounting for the development of aggression in children.

Aggression from the biological point of view is often viewed as an innate behaviour which is genetically offered from the parents to their offspring or through other biological factors such as low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin and certain brain structures when manipulated may result in aggressive behaviour.

When considering the learning point of view and environmental determinants of aggression in children. The key factors which play an essential role in the development of aggression in children will be the observation of others behaviour as proven by Albert Bandura (1961) as well as, the aggravation aggression hypothesis which includes been found to be a considerable element in the development of aggression.

This exam investigates the origins of childhood aggression and evaluates two differing perspectives being the biological and learning point of view and collectively concludes that there are several factors which contribute to a child operating aggressively. Biological factors such as genetics, low degrees of serotonin and the amygdale have proven to result in years as a child aggression. Similarly, environmental determinants such as observation of others, marketing and video gaming have also been found to cause childhood aggression.

However, an understanding and strong evaluation of both the biological and learning point of view has lead to a better groundwork of understanding youth aggression. Therefore, to fully understand the roots of aggressive behavior both natural and environmental factors must be considered within their limited scope (i. e. Strengths and weaknesses).

There are many ways in which aggression can be identified. Matching to Berkowitz (1975) aggression is any behavior which causes intentional injury to another person. There are various forms of hostility which include verbal, physical and mental behaviours that are evident in some children. Studies conducted on small children suggest that aggression develops in small children predicated on their biological backdrop or their environmental context. This article will be exploring and assessing the biological perspective and learning point of view of psychology accounting for the development of aggression in young children. This matter is worth investigation since aggression has become a substantial communal problem amongst future generations. They have always appealed to me to understand the basis of aggressive behaviour as I have seen this behavior amongst most children, teenagers as well as adults. It really is my curiosity and eagerness to discover more about the introduction of aggression from two opposing views being the natural and learning which includes motivated me to undertake this research subject matter for my extended essay.

To get started with, the natural perspective is dependant on the assumption that behaviour is biologically decided. All subconscious issues stem from a physiological track record. Therefore, aggression in children based on the biological perspective is known as to be an innate behaviour. Biological factors which trigger aggressive behaviour in children are inheritance, as well as the neurotransmitter serotonin and certain structures in the mind which trigger ambitious behaviour. Many ideas and circumstance studies have been put forward to aid the hypothesis that aggression in children is biologically motivated which will be talked about in further fine detail. (Weiten, W. 2007).

Biological Perspective

The biological perspective suggests that hostility in children is inherited through the characteristics of parents. Many ideas have been powered by studies from research on pets or animals, which highlight that there is some genetic aspect to hostility. Selective mating has been one of the longest existing methods to find the living of a phenotypic feature. In 1979 a Finnish psychologist Kristi Lagerspetz, required the most competitive mice from an assemblage and mated them with others, and in the same way the same applied for those non hostile mice. Lagerspetz's process was repeated over 26 generations of mice giving birth with their offspring. (Grivas. J, Carter. L pg. 95). The results mentioned that the final band of offspring, that your mice have been bred for extreme tendencies showed marvelous levels of aggression; in many cases they instantly attacked other mice exclusively for being in the same cage as that mouse. On the other hand, the mice that have been non extreme didn't show any indicators of aggression, even though other mice attacked them they didn't illustrate the trend to retaliate. In criticism of the experiment, it evidently cannot be conducted with humans since it is evidently unethical. However a significant contribution of this selective breeding experiment is its illustration of your genetic basis of aggression and how it can be handed onto the offspring. These mice had a practical gain over humans because these varieties reproduce a fresh generation in a very small amount of time, which is vital as aggressive behaviour can be watched over successive years in a short period of time. Likewise, mice can even be stored imprisoned in the lab to see their behaviours unlike humans. However you can find some criticism of extrapolating from family pets to humans. Despite some similarity between humans and family pets it is often argued that there is still a big difference between humans and animals therefore, a direct link cannot be made between the mice types and children.

On the other hand, more efficient ways of demonstrating that hostility in children is a heritable behavior is emphasised by other research methodologies such as twin studies. Twin studies suggest that hostility in children is a heritable characteristic and is offered from parents to their offspring. Twin studies are incredibly useful because twins are made from a single egg fertilised only by a single sperm, with regards to the study it aids in identifying the characteristics of the genes. Hence, most characteristics that the twins show occur as a probability of being part of the genetic information which is indistinguishable; whereas whatever distinctions there are occurs therefore of the surroundings and encounters experienced by the individual. In one research, conducted by research by Caspi (1998) data was gathered from indistinguishable and non indistinguishable twins following a questionnaire asking various personal and non personal questions. The results suggested that aggressive behaviour was only partly inherited and the surroundings played an evenly contributing role. However, regarding to Baron and Richardson (1994), the trend to be ambitious is not passed on from the parents to the offspring; rather the character which is with the capacity of making someone more or less extreme can be inherited. Hence giving a different approach to how aggressive behaviour may be genetically offered. These two twin studies are plainly indicative from the heritability of competitive behavior, yet it cannot be stated that inheritance is the only key factor which causes aggressive behaviour or the trend in young children.

Over time research in addition has consistently mentioned that low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin also plays a central role in increased degrees of hostility in children. In a report that was conducted in a laboratory at the National Institute of Mental Health (Bethasda MD), a good relationship was found between your neurotransmitter serotonin and the degrees of aggression in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (Serotonin and hostility in children, Vol 2, pg 95-101). In another review conducted by Russian researchers, silver precious metal foxes were studied and it was found that those foxes which had been selected for over 30 years for local behaviour exhibited no defensive reactions to humans because they had high levels of serotonin in various structures of the brain, set alongside the foxes which had been bred without independence (Popova, Voitenko, Kulikov, Avgustinovich, 1991, pg 751). These studies evidently highlight the role which serotonin plays in causing intense behaviour amongst children; the low the levels of serotonin the bigger the amount of aggression. Certainly this research could be criticised on the grounds that it is a big jump from pets or animals to children. Yet, the strength of this test was these foxes could learn and kept ever before an extended period of time where there behaviour is closely discovered unlike humans who can't be held in such tamed conditions.

There also certain parts of the brain which were found to be in charge of the development of hostility in humans particularly children. These two structures located within the mind being the hypothalamus and the amygdales were found to be in charge of aggressive behavior. Both structures are made of nerve cells and communicate with the other person via electric alerts. These brain structures can be manipulated using electrical power currents where in fact the experimenter may either choose to switch on or turn off the brain constructions disabling their normal operation using an electrode. It's been found through numeral makes an attempt that when these structures were activated, some animals initiate a rise in aggressive reactions so when it was switched off meaning its performing was ended ambitious responses decreased. For instance when pets or animals such as puppies and felines' hypothalamus and amygdale were manipulated by the electrode and their activity was obstructed the animals confirmed no behaviour towards certain objects which generally trigger an ambitious response. Say for example a dog wouldn't bark at any passing dog, highlighting no hostile response. However, through the normal operation of these structures these pets or animals generally bark at any passing dog. This obviously shows that the manipulation of the hypothalamus and amygdale both are likely involved in the introduction of aggression. Such ways of demonstrating the role which certain buildings of the

Evaluation of the natural perspective

The biological way of explaining aggressive behavior in children is very scientific consequently regarded as reliable. It really is based on many experimental studies that happen to be conducted in laboratory conditions. However this is merely not only durability but also a potential weakness as associated with the biological point of view in explaining intense behavior in children. For the reason that is that folks specifically children will respond differently under laboratory conditions then when faced with a similar situation in real life. Thus, this does not implicate that such laboratory experiments aren't valuable rather they may be limited by the generalisabilty. However, it's been found that there is a positive relationship between true to life situations and forecasted aggressive behavior in laboratory studies which point out that laboratory tests are quite useful.

The biological perspective can be criticised on the basis that hostility in children can't be related to studies which were conducted on family pets. One debate stemming from this criticism is that it's not possible to apply animal results to humans whatever the similarities because they are different. Parallels between humans and pets may be oversimplified and therefore communal as well as learning procedures must also be taken under consideration. Interpretation of dog results from the natural perspective requires cautious interpretation. However on the contrary, using animals to demonstrate the hyperlink between childhood hostility and natural factors is also very beneficial. That is because of the fact that some studies such as the breeding of generations and the localisation of the mind to identify parts which play key assignments in the development of aggression can't be conducted on humans since it will cause subconscious and physical injury to the members and usually likely will result in death. Similarly, there's always some kind of interconnection and likewise between family pets and humans therefore using pets or animals can be a starting point to understanding the natural bases of hostility in children is benfiecial.

Another weakness of describing the introduction of aggression in children from the natural perspective is because the biological strategy is reductionist. This is one of the key weaknesses that your biological perspective comes with. It does not respect or take into the account the conversation of the mind and body with the surroundings rather only calls for under consideration the neurological functions. It does not take into perspective the impact of the surrounding environment. That is a downfall as intricate human behaviours cannot continually be explained over a genetic basis; the encompassing environment also plays a central role in the influencing and triggering of hostile behaviour. For example, it can't be claimed that only one structure of the brain is in charge of the development of hostility in children because all constructions of the brain are connected and their effect or triggering of behavior cannot be based on one composition.

The biological point of view also entails low ecological validity. Most studies are conducted within lab conditions therefore having low ecological validity. Experiments conducted in the lab will most certainly produce different results then in true to life situations as individuals will not show the very same behavior in true to life situations as they'll in the lab.

Similarly, the results of all studies conducted can't be generalised to all children. These studies are applicable to a little sample and studies cannot be likely to be the same for an alternative test of children as all children will vary. Yet, this is often a starting place to understanding the foundation of aggressive behaviour.

Learning Perspective

On the other side the learning point of view is made on the basis that although many people are created with a hereditary endowment which is the main of instinctual behaviours, the majority of behaviour is learned from the surroundings. Out of this basic assumption the training perspective claim that aggression in children will not purely develop consequently of natural factors, alternatively it makes up about a very minimal part. Hostility is learned from the observation of other folks and their aggressive behaviour. Aggression in children is also learnt through the observation of frustrated people who encircle them and stress also triggers extreme behaviour. It has additionally been discovered that violent video gaming are linked to aggressive behaviour amidst children.

Firstly, one of the ideas proposed to aid aggression from the training point of view is the 'frustration-aggression hypothesis' that was suggested by John Dallas (1930) and his lovers. The frustration aggression theory suggests that frustration is the main factor which plays a part in aggression. If in times where some may be frustrated then it will immediately result in aggressive behaviour. Corresponding to this hypothesis aggression is only going to occur credited to frustration no other particular factor. Also, the amount of aggression showed is simply dependant about how frustrated one may be. For instance when a child is avoided from taking a course of action or being avoided from something it is most probably believed that the child will be hostile; occurring consequently to be frustrated. For example, when a child wants a toy or a chocolates from the supermarket and they do not get what they need then very often they become aggressive against their parents whether bodily or even verbally. However, this theory has its weaknesses. Annoyance won't always lead to aggression it can often lead to depressive disorder and even drawback. Also, aggression generally occurs as a result of several other emotions such as sadness, dread, panic etc.

Roger Barker, Tamara Dembo and Kurt Lewin (1941) further looked into frustration as a reason behind aggression in small children. In their conducted study, children were shown a roomful of attractive playthings which were placed out of the reach. The kids were kept away from the toys a while before they were allowed to play with them. On the other hand, the handled conditioned group of the children were permitted to immediately play with the playthings. Similar to Dallas's conclusions, it was observed from this conducted research that the kids who were frustrated as they had to wait an extended period of time before being exposed to the toys and games, performed aggressively with the toys and games by smashing and stomping the toys and games. On the other hand, the children who have been allowed to play immediately with the toys and games treated them carefully and enjoyed happily.

One interpersonal determinant of hostile behavior is Albert Bandura's interpersonal learning theory (1961) which features the role of observation and its own repercussions on the aggressive behavior of children from the learning perspective. Albert Bandura thinks that most of human behavior is discovered by observing a model or just another person, which affects a child's view of how this new behavior can be developed and ultimately believing that this new attained behaviour is helpful information for their activities. This provides the foundation of explaining intense behaviour in children from the learning perspective. Albert Bandura's most well known test was the Bobo doll test; bobo doll being a cheap clown doll. With this experiment Albert Bandura and his fellow workers, examined the consequences of children observing a grown-up behave aggressively with a bobo doll. During the experiment he previously children enjoying model operating aggressively towards a bobo doll. They viewed the video of the model constantly performing aggressively in a way of sitting down on the doll, punching it and kicking it frequently. He also experienced other children watch a non extreme model participating in calmly with the bobo doll. After the children were subjected to such models, they were taken into another room where there have been many toys between them the bobo doll. The results from this mentioned that children, who had been exposed to the extreme model and seen their serves, imitated aggressive behaviour for the bobo doll. Whereas, the children who were exposed to the non extreme model exhibited no or hardly any aggressive behaviour.

Albert Bandura's Bobo Doll was suitable to highlight the role of observation in children's learning. Children were the subject because they are less socially conditioned unlike individuals. However, this test raises the likelihood that children may have thought that this experiment was a casino game because of the bobo doll possessing a springtime which springs back again soon after being knocked down. A criticism of this research is that it is not ecological. Thus the kids may have not acted aggressively towards any man in true to life.

A criticism of the communal learning theory is also that theory does not look at the changes which a kid undertakes including physical and mental as a child matures. Children at different age ranges may respond to laboratory experiments in various ways.

Much like observation of other's behaviours violent video games and television shows have also been proved to a certain magnitude to trigger aggression in children. The learning perspective suggests that children who play violent video gaming very often such as Doom, Wolfenstein 3D or Mortal Battle yet others could trigger aggressive behaviour, either actually or verbally. Violent video gaming have a supplementary impact on small children and trigger hostile behaviour more than violent tv set shows because they're more interactive where in fact the child is engaged in such ambitious acts and ultimately they are compensated for acting aggressively in the game. Dr. Craig A. Anderson, Ph. D. (2000), of Iowa Talk about University or college in Ames and his co-workers discovered that in the U. S and Japan that Japanese and American children who performed violent video games demonstrated more aggressive behaviour months later in comparison to their peers who didn't. On this review, 181 Japanese students aged between 12 and 15 years of age and 364 U. S. children aged between 9 and12 years old were tested. The U. S children named their favourite video games and how often they enjoyed them. Whereas with the Japanese children, they were observed to see how often they played violent video gaming. The children were later on asked to rate their degree of aggression and information from their professors and peers were also taken into account. Through the results it was discovered that the children who were exposed to more violent video games were a lot more competitive than those who have been less exposed. This was particularly demonstrated when a comparison was made between their prior levels of hostility (at the beginning of the study) and exactly how there was a dramatic rise in this level. (Cited in BBC Media, Video games 'increase aggression, Health Section). Violent video gaming can impact on children's hostility levels, this is because of the fact the kids begin to assume that the globe is a hostile place and competitive acts are acceptable and are part of a standard daily life to cope with the competitive world. It is also been uncovered that constant and excessive exposure to violent video games causes children to become desensitized to assault. After they have been employed in aggressive functions it impacts on the kids emotionally and as a consequence these children find it much easier and acceptable to activate in violence and aggressive functions.

Berkowitz. et. al (1979) investigated the result of discomfort and pain on individuals to show their odds of behaving aggressively. He induced pain by placing the participant's hands in cool or tepid to warm water while they allocated rewards and punishments to somebody. Berkowitz identified that those who got their hands put in the cool water caused better home to their partner then those who had their hands immersed in hot water.

Evaluation of the training perspective

The learning point of view also incorporates advantages and weaknesses. Similar to the biological perspective of explain competitive behavior in children, it is reductionist. It talks about aggressive behaviour in terms of a characteristic which has been learnt although it does not refuse/ or reject the genetic endowment of hostile behavior it argues that competitive behaviour is learn through observation and induced by the surrounding environment and conditions. It simplifies the incident of certain behaviours especially aggression into a few steps. For example the condition of decrease is noticeable in Albert Bandura's review of the bobo doll whereby intense behaviour is reduced to the process of imitation. Thus, it includes forgotten other leading causes of the development of aggression including the children's upbringing and home environment. Children were varied therefore some children might have been raised in a violent home and exposed to many intense situations, therefore this may have affected just how they acted in the laboratory and the ultimate results of the test.

The Stress aggression hypothesis reinforced by Dallas (1931) is not really a very efficient approach to demonstrating how childhood hostility develops as in some instances, such as learned helplessness, frustration may well not lead to aggression instead can lead to depression; therefore irritation is not the only real key factor which contributes to aggressive behavior there are other sources which may lead to intense behaviour.

The learning point of view also denies some very important mental procedures which also cause the introduction of hostility in children. It does not consider how certain brain set ups may trigger aggressive behaviour, quite simply it does not take into account neurological processes rather simply makes up about the affects of daily lives and environmentally friendly context which one is raised in. It generally does not incorporate any biological or cognitive techniques which can be also in charge of the introduction of aggression.

Nevertheless, the training perspective targets the environment and the problem in which a child is conditioned to create an competitive response. It has many useful applications which have been effective in explaining the development of aggressive behaviour. It clearly highlights how certain behaviours specifically hostility can be discovered by the observation of others.

The learning point of view also has a low ecological validity, whereby the kids who were participating in the test may have acted diversely in the laboratory then what they would have in a real life situation. To be specific, Albert Bandura's bobo doll test can be criticised on the grounds that the children's aggression was measured away from their environment. However if such tests are conducted in a more realistic manner then the results would become more beneficial in terms of focusing on how aggressive behavior in children develops.


Having considered the interpretations of the introduction of hostility in children from both the natural and learning point of view and the criticisms which come up from the research conducted, it could be concluded that both the biological and learning point of view contribute to the development of aggression in children. In terms of the natural perspective, this talks about aggression as purely based on biological bases. It really is highly reliable since is dependant on science. Nevertheless the learning point of view, views aggression as unrelated to genes rather being learnt. The learning perspective's interpersonal learning theory is a very useful explanation for the intense behaviour of children. It not only pertains to direct experiences such to be disciplined by parents but instead all the time such as when watching tv. Whereas the frustration-aggression hypothesis has a weaker stand, this is because frustration will not always educe hostility rather it may encourage retaliation. The hypothesis shows that frustration accounts for all aggressive serves for this reason it is not completely justified, because there are more determinants of extreme behaviour. Both the biological point of view and learning point of view derive from a lot of support and studies which were conducted. However, the learning perspective views aggression in children as having some kind of biological basis, yet through experience and reinforcement that aggression becomes evident between children. For instance, the role of the mother or father is paramount in using the natural factors of the kid to mould the kid and guide them through their development. If a child's genes are competitive, the parent or guardian within the surroundings will attempt to nurture and accommodate because of their child's genes by endeavoring to provide a peaceful background. Parents may also choose to put their child in a job that is sports oriented to appeal to the extreme levels in order to use their energy in a good way. From this it is plainly evident that both biological perspective and learning perspective account for and donate to the introduction of hostility in children.

Both the training perspective and natural contribute similarly to the introduction of aggression in children as it is difficult to isolate the contributing factors. It really is clear that natural factors as well as the encompassing environment both play a considerable role in the development of aggressive behaviour in children.


Bandura, A. And Ross, D. and Ross, S. A (1961). Transmission of aggression through imitation of intense models, Journal of Abnormal and Community Mindset, 63, 575-582

Baron. R, Richardson. D, 2005, Human being Aggression, Second Release, Plenum Publishing

Barker, R. Dembo, T. , and Lewin K. (1941). Aggravation and hostility: An experiment with young children, University of Iowa Studies in Child Welfare, 18, 1-314.

BBC News, Video games 'increase hostility, health Section, Weekend, 23 Apr, 2000, utilized 5th July 2009 available from: http://news. bbc. co. uk/2/hi/health/720707. stm

Berkowitz, L. (1975). A study of Social Mindset. Hillsdale, IL: Dryden Press

Caspi, R. Plomin, R. , Corley, A. , Fulker, D. W. , & DeFries, J. C. (1998). Adoption results for self-reported personality: Journal of Personality and Social Mindset, 75, 211-218

Effie M. Mitsis, Jeffrey M. Halperin and Jeffrey H. Newcorn, 2000, Serotonin and hostility in children, Current Psychiatry Information Journal, Level 2, #2 2, (1535- 1645).

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Harding Anne, CNN, Violent video games linked to child aggression, 2009 utilized on the 18th July, 2008 from http://www. cnn. com/2008/HEALTH/family/11/03/healthmag. violent. video. kids/inde x. html

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Russell G. Geen (Editor), Edward I. Donnerstein, August 1998, Human being Aggression: Ideas, Research, And Implications For Community Plan also available from: http://www. springerlink. com/content/f713000110546w0h/

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