The frustration-aggression hypothesis
There is a hypothesis that aggression is conditioned by frustration from some situations. Suggested by Freud, it was further developed by other scholars (Burger, 2015). This hypothesis states that “aggression is always a consequence of frustration … that the occurrence of aggressive behavior always presupposes the existence of frustration and, contrariwise, that the existence of frustration always leads to some form of aggression” (Burger, 2015, p. 135). Although the theory looks simple in explaining reasons of aggression, it also provides an outlook on the problem of stopping aggression. Thus, there is a suggestion that aggression would not repeat as long as tension from frustration does not grow again. However, the theory was later modified, and at present, it states that although frustration always leads to aggression, it does not always take obvious forms.
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Playing violent video games as a way to release anger
Frequently, people need to “let off a little steam” to release their anger and avoid doing something bad when they are overwhelmed by aggression. Many therapists agree that releasing anger against a harmless target can be productive and favorable for further therapy (Burger, 2015). However, an experiment showed that “the conventional wisdom about letting off steam didn’t work” (Burger, 2015, p. 140). The participants who were suggested to release their anger on the imagined enemy were even angrier than before the experiment. Moreover, studies by Bresin and Gordon (2013), Bushman, Baumeister, and Stack (1999), Geen et al. (1975), Verona and Sullivan (2008) (as cited in Burger, 2015, p. 141), prove that aggressive actions frequently increase aggression. Thus, theories about the positive effect of releasing anger are not working.
Burger, J.M. (2015). Personality (9th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.