Social Psychology and Human Nature

Social psychology is the scientific study of how human behavior is influenced by external factors such as the environment (Baumeister and Bushman 29). It investigates how others influence human thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Social psychology argues that the actual or implied presence of other people determines how we behave (Smith and Mackie 56). Generally, social psychology observes that human behavior and social influence are two factors that determine how people behave in different situations. This paper will evaluate aggression using an aggression questionnaire. In addition, I will provide an explanation for each behavior.

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Aggression is any behavior that involves the use of force (Smith and Mackie, 43). It can be expressed verbally or physically. Aggression can occur in different situations. Using the sample questionnaire from Buss and Perry (239), I formulated a survey to determine different levels of aggression among different individuals. I used a scale of 1-5 points. In the table, five indicates the highest mark, while one indicates the lowest mark.

I [insert name] Peter John Nelly Ana
P.A Once in a while I can’t control the urge to strike another person 2 4 5 1 2
Given enough provocation, I may hit another person 3 5 2 1 3
If somebody hits me, I hit back 3 2 4 2 2
I get into fights a little more than the average person does 1 3 4 1 3
If I have to resort to violence to protect my rights’ I will 4 3 2 1 3
There are people who pushed me so far that we came to blows 4 4 3 2 3
I cannot think of no good reason for ever hitting
another person
5 3 2 1 4
I have threatened People I know 1 2 3 2 3
I have become so mad that I have broken things 4 3 4 3 5
V.A I tell my friends openly when I disagree with them 5 3 2 4 1
I often find myself disagreeing with people 1 3 1 3 2
When people annoy me, I may tell them what I think of them 4 2 3 4 5
I can’t help getting into arguments when people disagree with me 1 3 2 3 1
My friends say that I’m somewhat argumentative 5 2 3 5 2
A I flare up quickly but get over it quickly 5 2 4 1 5
When frustrated, I let my irritation show 5 3 2 3 4
I sometimes feel like a powder keg ready to explode 5 4 3 2 1
I am an even-tempered Person 4 2 2 4 4
Some of my friends think I’m a hothead 2 3 5 4 1
Sometimes I fly off the handle for no good reason 5 3 4 3 2
I have trouble controlling my temper 3 4 5 3 3
H I am sometimes eaten up with jealousy 4 3 4 4 2
At times I feel I have gotten a raw deal out of life 3 4 3 3 3
Other people always seem to get the breaks 3 4 2 3 2
I wonder why sometimes I feel so bitter about things 5 5 3 2 1
I know that friends talk about me behind my back 3 4 2 3 1
I am suspicious of overly friendly strangers 5 3 3 4 2
I sometimes feel that people are laughing at me behind my back 1 3 4 2 4
When people are especially nice, I wonder what they want 5 4 3 5 1

Table: (Buss and Perry 239)

P.A – Physical Aggression

V.A – Verbal Aggression

A – Anger

H – Hostility

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  • 1 = extremely uncharacteristic of me
  • 2 = somewhat uncharacteristic of me
  • 3 = neither uncharacteristic nor characteristic of me
  • 4 = somewhat characteristic of me
  • 5 = extremely characteristic of me

From Buss and Perry (239).

The aggression questionnaire has been divided into four parts, namely: physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger, aggression, and hostility aggression (Baron, Branscombe, and Donn 230). To demonstrate that people have different levels of aggression, four of my friends and I took an aggression test.

According to the aggression survey result, I discovered that my aggression is average compared to others. This is because I scored average marks in all four categories. On the other hand, Peter and John showed to be more physically aggressive than Nelly, Ana, and I.

On the subject of verbal aggression, I scored high, and I was surprised to know that I am more verbally aggressive than my friends are. On the anger section, I also scored high marks compared to my friends, while Peter and Nelly scored low. This is a clear indication that I have a high temper compared to others. From the survey, I discovered that I am more hostile compared to Peter, John, Nelly, and Ana. This is a clear indication that I am very defensive, not like Ana, who is very friendly. Based on the outcome of the questionnaire, I discovered that I am the most aggressive of all my friends.

The variance in scores on the aggression survey can be explained by different factors. Such features include environmental, social, situational, and cultural factors. Social factors such as upbringing can make individuals portray aggressive behavior. If certain people live in a society that encourages violence, such individuals are likely to treat others violently. In a family setting, if a child is treated violently, he is also likely to treat his peers in the same manner. John was raised by a stepfather who was very violent. This could explain why John is physically aggressive.

Peter and I scored high on hostility aggression. As such, we are more hostile than all the others are. This can be explained by environmental factors. When individuals are exposed to environments that encourage violent behavior, they can easily develop aggressive behavior towards others (Tremblay 48). For instance, some films contain violent scenes that can make its members practice violence to others (Tremblay 50). Such films portray violent behavior as a good thing. Because of this, viewers develop the impression that violence and abusive language are good (most common for young kids). In my case, I remember watching many violent films when I was young.

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In terms of physical aggression, Peter and John were confirmed to be more physically aggressive than Nelly, Ana, and I. John is more physically aggressive than all the others are. This can be explained using cultural factors. Some cultural practices encourage violence among their members. There are cultures that encourage men to be violent and abusive to women. Culturally, men are seen as domineering ones, and they use physical or verbal abuse to keep women under their control (Tremblay 45).

This is common in a patriarchal society. Men use violence to defend their “position” in society. A few years back, John’s father was imprisoned for constantly battering his wife. This could explain why John is aggressive.

On the other hand, I am more likely to hit someone back when I am provoked. This can be explained by certain situations. Some circumstances can cause people to react violently or in an abusive manner. When people are confronted with situations that require self-defense or when they feel threatened, they tend to become violent and abusive. Violence and abuse can be used to protect an individual from external threats (Baumeister and Bushman, 35).

In addition, when individuals are frustrated, they are likely to resort to violence. For instance, if a person X slaps individual Y twice or thrice and probably continues for the fourth time, definitely individual Y will resort to violence as a defense mechanism. In most cases, when I am provoked, I usually defend myself.

In summary, there are various types of aggression, such as verbal aggression, hostility aggression, anger, aggression, and physical aggression (Baumeister and Bushman 21). Generally, any type of aggression can cause pain and injury to the person to whom such behavior is directed. As we have seen, aggression is highly linked to social, environmental, biological, cultural, and situational factors. Generally, there is no excuse for subjecting others to any form of violence or abuse. No matter the situation, individuals should learn to control their anger (Marianne and Comp 124).

Works Cited

Baron, Robert, Nyla Branscombe, and Byrne Donn. Social Psychology. (12th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2009. Print.

Baumeister, Roy, and Brad Bushman. Social Psychology and Human Nature. New York: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

Buss, Arnold, and Mark Perry. Aggression Questionnaire. Journal of Personality And Social Psychology 63.3 (1992): 237-243. Print.

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Marianne, Miserandino, and Walker Comp. Insights: Readings in Social Psychology. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2003. Print.

Smith, Elliot, and Diane Mackie. Social Psychology. New York: Psychology Press, Print.

Tremblay, Richard. Developmental Origins of Aggression. New York: Guilford Press.

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