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OP-5.1.-Hitting, Hurting and Having Fun: Why Violence is Essential to Life and Different from Aggression

Boyanowsky, E.
School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada,

Calls for the end of violence permeate the media, textbooks, university courses, government policy and conferences, forinstance this one. Part of the problem is that the terms violence and aggression are used interchangeably. In fact an examination even of academic textbooks reveals both indiscriminate usage and many tortuous attempts to integrate the two concepts, often with the erroneous designation of violence as a particularly nasty form of aggression, that more formally defined phenomenon that we know and love so well. In common parlance and the media, however, no such niceties are attempted and violence is railed against and bemoaned as ubiquitous in human society. Well, indeed it is, and for good reason: nothing would exist without it. An analysis of physical and social phenomena ranging from thunder storms and volcanoes to epileptic convulsions,sex, love making, giving birth and rough and tumble play reveal that the differences between violence and aggression are more than semantic and to recognize them is an essential though neglected task for the serious researcher of human and animal behavior. The author, using data from various studies on the relationships among temperature, aggression and sexual arousal proposes a taxonomy of violence, aggression and violent aggression. This approach uses the legal concept of mens rea, i.e., the mental formation of the intent to do harm, injury or cause death, examines the context for each act and the agentic qualities of the actor or cause of the violent and/or aggressive act placing them in a multidimensional model. Such classification, it is proposed will inform inquiries into the causes of violence and aggression and into the bases of attraction to violence and to aggression and perhaps their consequences for the viewer of such acts in the media. 

OP-5.2.-A Social Psychological Perspective of Hate Crime as a Distinct Form of  Aggression

Craig, K.M.
Department of Psychology, Howard University, Washington, USA.

Within the US, intergroup violence has a long history, but it has only been within the last 2 decades that the term hate crime has been invoked to explain a distinctive form of this aggression. The US has no monopoly on hate crime and rates of its occurrence have increased in Europe as well as Canada.  A hate crime is an illegal act that involves intentional selection of a victim based on a perpetrator's bias or prejudice against the actual or perceived status of the victim.  Hate crime represents a unique form of intergroup aggression which not only includes the intent to harm, but also communicates information about group identity.  Hate crimes indicate the perpetrator's bias, and also serve symbolic and instrumental functions.  Hate crimes are regarded as serving a symbolic function to the extent that a message, is communicated to a community, neighbourhood or group.  Hate crime is instrumental in effectively curtailing the behaviors and movement of members of the victim's group.  They restrict the behaviors and choices of large groups of people. Little scholarly attention has focused on hate crime, and attempts to explain its causes, and to describe its victims and perpetrators are rare. Theories on hate crime are located at the intersection of widely accepted theories in aggression research (e.g., realistic group conflict, frustration-aggression theory), and recent social cognitive contributions to the study of intergroup relations. The goal of this presentation is to identify common factors across the different types of hate crimes in order to clarify existing claims about the nature of hate-motivated crimes, their prevalence, causes and impact on victims.  First, a review of the literature in this area which distinguishes hate-motivated aggression and violence from similarly egregious aggression is presented.  Hate crimes differ from other offenses in multiple ways.  Following this a review of relevant theoretical formulations which explain hate crime occurrence is presented, and this is followed by a consideration of empirical research findings.

OP-5.3.-Aggression and violence among drivers on the road today 

Saiz-Vicente, E.J., Pollock, D.,  Garcia-Sevilla*, J. and  Romero-Medina*, A.
University Institute of Traffic and Road Safety (INTRAS). Universitat de Valencia. *Department of Basic Psychology. Faculty of Psychology, University of Murcia, Spain.

A new phenomenon within the area of traffic safety known as road rage, which appeared as a recent social problem at the end of the decade of the 90's, is an issue of ever increasing importance among drivers, as well as the news media and law enforcement agencies. Each year approximately one hundred thousand accidents with victims occur in Spain. The fraction of these crashes that are due to road rage is totally unknown. In this study an extensive sample of drivers (both professional and from the general population) answered a questionnaire which explored their attitudes and behaviour associated with aggressive practices while driving. A transversal design was used in order to discover the present situation regarding this problem. The attitudes and behaviours dealt with in this investigation include a wide range of aggressive and violent habits. The study indicates that drivers differ with respect to how they classify a list of behaviours that could be considered aggressive. Moreover, significant age differences were found with respect to the level of danger perceived in these aggressive tendencies and violent driving habits. In general, the evaluation of these activities as "extremely dangerous" increases progressively with the driver's age. The evaluation of such habits as tailgating, running red lights, cutting in front of another vehicle, showing anger, insulting, threatening or displaying obscene gestures to other drivers or pedestrians, etc, has shown that age as well as gender are two important factors associated with differences in aggressive conduct. These factors in conjunction with high levels of frustration and emotionality, along with the anonymity provided by the vehicle, can provoke situations which are highly dangerous in a roadway environment.  

OP-5.4.-Finding the unexpected:  paradoxical reactions of  property crime victims 

Greenberg, M.S, and Beach, S.R.
Department of Psychology and Scott R. Beach, University Center for Social and Urban Research, University of Pittsburgh, USA

This study employed a two-wave panel design to investigate cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses to property crime victimization. Three hypotheses were tested: (1) burglary victims will perceive themselves as having less control over what happens to them than those who have not been victimized; (2) victims who believe “it could have been worse,” will feel less “wronged” than victims not holding this belief; (3) victims who take security precautions such as installing special locks and security systems will feel safer and therefore less distressed than those who do not take such precautions.  A random digit dialing procedure was used to identify 76 burglary victims, 218 theft victims, and 257 nonvictim controls. Participants were interviewed on two occasions (about a year apart)by means of computer assisted telephone interviews (CATI).  The results for all three hypotheses were opposite to what was hypothesized.  First, burglary victims had higher expectations of control than nonvictims in the short term, but not in the long term. Rather than shattering their assumptions of control, less traumatic victimizations like burglary may pose a challenge to such assumptions, leading to a bolstering of their beliefs in control in the short term. Second, victims who believed it could have been worse reported feeling more wronged than those who did not hold this belief.  Our data suggest that holding this belief heightens perceptions of vulnerability, which enhances feelings of being wronged. Third, victims who took security precautions in response to the crime were more distressed, both short- and long-term, than those who did not take such precautions. We contend that such precautionary behavior activates victims’ memories of the crime and serves as a reminder of the dangers lurking about.  The paper concludes with a discussion of suggestions for future research.  

OP-5.5.-Computerised Interaction Simulation in the Assessment of Aggression-related Response Style and Dispositions

Aidman, E.V.
School of Behavioural and Social Sciences & Humanities, University of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. 

Diagnosis of aggression-related response patterns and dispositions can be substantially enhanced through the use of  computer-simulated social interaction tasks. “Mimics” is an interactive software environment designed on the basis of schematised cross-cultural “facial universals” (Ekman, 1992,1999) to elicit and assess aggression responses in a “conflict / cooperation” choice paradigm (Aidman & Shmelyov, 1997).  A computer game-like scenario requires “the player” to manipulate schematic facial expressions of an “Avatar” in order to negotiate through a number of  “hosts” who display facial expressions from the same range as the Avatar’s. The hosts’ reactions to the Avatar depend on both their and Avatar’s expressions and range from friendly and supportive to obstructing or even expressly aggressive. The Avatar has a choice of negotiating with, or attacking, the hosts. Comprehensive  recording of player’s moves and interactions has allowed a number of  fine-grained  behavioural indices of aggressive responses, including the percentage of  unprovoked attacks (aggression as an intrinsic choice),  the percentage of  retaliatory attacks (aggression mirroring), frustration-driven attacks (aggressive over-reaction to frustration), as well as tendencies to passive responding to aggression - the choice of either a frowning expression (threatening) or a new route (evasion) after suffering an attack. General behavioural indices are also computed, such as spontaneous activity, social flexibility and determination (sustaining the game after a critical loss of power). Construct validity of these measures has been supported by a predictable pattern of their associations with Bass and Perry (1992) Aggression Questionnaire scores and Bjorkvist et al. (1993)  measures of indirect aggression. A key advantage of the method over self-report measures of aggression is in its capacity to reach beyond verbal declarations thus reducing impression management and other self-presentation effects in the measurement of aggression.

OP-5.6.-Aggression Between Species

Baenninger, R.
Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA.

Interspecies aggression is a topic that has rarely been discussed at meetings of the International Society for Research on Aggression. ISRA members' research concentrates on aggressive behavior that is interpersonal or that occurs between groups; in interspecies aggression members of one species attack members of another species. Sometimes the winner eats the loser, but the interactions are not always predatory.  Aggression also occurs in competitive or parasitic interactions when, for example, hyenas chase a solitary lion away from prey that they killed. Violent, harmful, intentional attacks by humans on other species are actually quite common. Are attacks on other animals a different phenomenon from our attacks on each other? Self-defense (whether justified or not) is one major reason for our aggression toward each other. During human evolution our ancestors defended themselves daily against animals that were bloodthirsty, powerful, and occasionally venomous, animals that were ferocious predators and competitors. Our long-standing attempts to eliminate creatures like wolves and rattlesnakes, the fear they engender, and their appearance in our myths and nightmares may be grounded in human evolution. Our response to them is out of proportion to the danger they pose to us in the modern world.  Indeed, our aggression toward other species endangers them to the point of extinction. We hunt and kill wild animals even when we do not eat them, and we use them in cruel and sometimes sadistic entertainment. We force domestic animals to work for us as slaves, and "sacrifice" them in science, often without considering alternative means of gathering data.  There is a large literature on the extent to which attacks on animals are precursors of violence toward other humans. Thus, understanding interspecies aggression may be important for our understanding of human interpersonal aggression, and I will discuss evidence for this transfer phenomenon. My primary focus will be to examine some theories and models of aggression within our species to see if they can account for the abuse of other animals, and the attacks that we make on them. 


Shatan, C.F.
New York University, New York, USA.

The perception that people need enemies—“enemization”—has played a major role in the history of human hatred and conflict.  What renders people susceptible to this perception?  The complex psychosocial process of basic combat training (BCT) in the military provides clues to the teaching of hate in society at large.  BCT devalues recruits and brutalizes them.  Since they are forbidden to oppose their Drill Instructors, recruits deflect the cruelty they experience into active aggression against others.  Armies train recruits to have a “Free-Floating Enemy.”  Their commander designates a specific embodiment of the enemy to be destroyed.  Enemy Formation (“Enemization”)—through dehumanization of self and “others” and loss of compassion—is essential to prepare for war and killing. The core of enemization is splitting between good and evil, between the good-self and the bad-self.  One’s own “bad-self” is attributed to the enemy who is relabelled as a faceless subhuman “pseudo-species,” thus increasing the opportunities for projection.  This reinforces the social permission given to our soldiers—“the good-self”—to destroy the designated enemy.  Despite the end of the Cold War, combat and enemization have been normalized as “facts of life.”  Meanwhile, veterans live on with internalized catastrophic reality and with an unceasing internal awareness of the “enemy.”  Moreover, intolerance of the presence of the “other” within a majoritarian social context contributes to “enemization” and violence leaving vast numbers of victims in its wake—genocide, code-named “ethnic cleansing.”  These victims suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)—which the author played a central role in delineating. Traumatologists have largely been “stretcher bearers of the social order,” providing palliation of war-related trauma.  Can traumatologists collaborate with students of aggression to go beyond this role—to an analysis of the phenomenon of enemization?  Such an approach could focus our combined expertise on possible ways of dismantling the army-and-enemy system, the manhunt, which is a human invention.  By undoing the social structures underlying enemy creation, we may be able to prevent PTSD lest it remain with us unchanged, a moral outgrowth of war and persecution under different names—from DSM III to DSM X.  Besides studying BCT, I have accessed soldier’s narratives, fiction, biographies, memoirs etc., to elucidate individual and group perceptions and personifications of the enemy.  I have also depicted the healing process I call “de-enemization.”