Frustration-Aggression Theory and Environmental Factors

The frustration-aggression theory implies that frustration (a feeling of being prevented from achieving a particular goal) increases the possibility of an individual responding aggressively to the environmental factors (Aronson, Wilson, Akert, & Sommers, 2016). One of the factors relates to the close attachment to an individual’s goal or the object of desire; this means that if the goal is closer, the higher are the expectations, and thus the more probable is the aggression. The personal background is another factor that can influence the occurrence of frustration. For instance, if an individual is impulsive by nature or was raised in an unpleasant environment, it is highly likely that he or she will be much more prone to developing frustration and consequently aggression.

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Frustration-aggression theory is different from hostile or instrumental aggression theories. Hostile aggression takes place when individual experiences extreme anger, which is targeted at inflicting injury and pain (Aronson et al., 2016). The instrumental aggression theory postulates that there is an intention to hurt another person as a means to some goal instead of just inflicting pain (Aronson et al., 2016). If to choose one theory that is the most valid, the frustration-aggression theory holds more ground since it digs deeper into the exploration of an individual’s attachment to an objective and explains the relationship between this attachment and emotional stability.

Both genetic and environmental factors can influence the occurrence of aggression among people. According to Pavlov, Chistiakov, and Chekhonin (2012), genetic predisposition to aggression is affected by the polymorphic genetic variants in the serotoninergic system that has an impact on the levels of serotonin, its production, and degradation (p. 62). Environmental factors also have an impact on aggression; violence in the household, lack of attention to a child’s needs, and overall surroundings (including the company) determine whether an individual will be prone to aggression. While genetic predisposition cannot be overturned, the environmental influence makes a tremendous difference. Nurturing a person and taking care of him or her during the upbringing can play a significant role in balancing the mental background. If for example, a person’s parents disregard the importance of nurturing and pay no attention to genetically predisposed to the aggressive child, such a predisposition would decrease his or her quality of life in the future.

Unit 7.2: Conformity

The Asch Conformity Experiment studied the power of social influence and illustrated that there are some great limits as to how people conform to social pressures (Aronson et al., 2016). In the experiment, the responses of only one participant were measured: when other “confederates” gave wrong answers to obvious questions, the test showed that the real participant conformed to the prevailing opinion. Milgram’s experiment tested the willingness of study participants to obey the orders of authority even if these orders imply conflict with their conscience (Aronson et al., 2016). It was found that a significant number of participants were willing to obey. It is different from Asch’s experiment because it studied the power of the authority’s influence (obedience) rather than the influence of a social group (conformity). As both experiments have support in real life, the power of social influence illustrated by Asch occurs more often in day-to-day activities. For example, in a group setting where everybody drinks beer at the party, one individual that does not like drinking will usually conform to social behavior and have alcoholic drinks to fit in.


Aronson, E., Wilson, T., Akert, R., & Sommers, S. (2016). Social psychology (9th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Pavlov, K., Chistiakov, D., & Chekhonin, V. (2012). Genetic determinants of aggression and impulsivity in humans. Journal of Applied Genetics, 53(1), 61-82.

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