Aggression refers to a range of behaviors that can result in both physical and psychological harm to oneself, others, or the objects in the environment. A number of different factors can influence the expression of aggression.
Social learning theories suggest that aggressive behavior is learned and maintained through social experiences around us. Mostly the adolescents who learn to participate in antisocial behavior are previously exposed to antisocial environments. Antisocial behavior is not only limited to family, but also stretches onto the values revolving around school and the society. While going out in society and being independent, children are exposed to new behaviors and while depending on the environment, some of these behaviors may be positive or negative.
Our present environment and past learning experiences also influence aggression; therefore how you were raised may play a role in the same. People who grow up witnessing more forms of aggression are more likely to believe that violence is something which is socially acceptable. Therefore, with such individuals, the risk of verbal and physical abuse or violence increases. However not always do we respond to frustration by acting aggressively. Environmental factors of aggression also include Situational Determinants of aggression such as heat, media violence and violent video games.
When we talk about the role of culture in raising our levels of aggression, social reinforcement is a tangent to stress upon. This refers to the appreciation and acceptance by the society for exhibiting a specific behavior. Majority of cultures consider aggressive traits shown by men as strong and desirable, while portrayal of the same attitude by women is not appreciated in the same capacity. This cultural disparity between acceptance of aggression in different genders may stem from long underlying conditioning of gender specific roles. There are also major differences in general attitudes toward the appropriateness of using violence. Some people are simply more likely to believe in the value of using aggression as a means of solving problems than others.
An interesting point where gender, culture and caste are concerned can be made looking at many groups of people who live by an honor system in which, if a family’s or a community’s honor has been tarnished, an aggressive response will reinstate the honor. Sigmund Freud has mentioned that many psychological factors also reflect our aggressive behaviors in specific situations. Freud’s principle of catharsis stated that performing an act of aggression discharges aggressive energy and temporarily reduces our impulse to become aggressive. He believed that impulses from aggressive instincts build up inside us over time, have to be released, and then build up again in a never ending cycle.