By Mr Daniel Hansson
Questions for Discussion
1. Is violence ever justified?
2. How old do you think the youngest murderer ever
Give explanations of terrorism.
What do you think are the reasons for school
Will there ever be a nuclear war?
Are humans less or more violent than we used to be?
Why does violence sell?
What is a pecking order?
Definition of Violence
 Violence: An aggressive act in which the perpetrator
abuses individuals indirectly or directly
 Examples of violence: Murder, bullying, war,
genocide, domestic violence, suicide
Sociocultural Explanations of
 Cultural norms
 Social learning theory
 Agency theory
Cultural Norms
 Some cultures have norms of violence, e.g. the culture of
honor in the Southern United States
 Culture of honor: A cultural norm where people need to
maintain their reputation by not accepting improper
conduct by others, such as insults. These cultures
encourage retribution and toughness.
 Cohen and Nisbett (1995): College students from the
southern and northern part of the United States were
insulted by a confederate. Students who had grown up in
the southern United States were more upset (had a higher
rise in cortisol levels) and were more likely to engage in
aggressive and dominant behavior.
Social Learning Theory
 People can learn antisocial behavior through
observational learning (e.g. Bandura et al., 1961)
 Eron (1986): Found a positive correlation between
number of hours of violence watched on television at
the age of 8 and the level of aggression they
demonstrated as teenagers, as well as the number of
criminal acts as adults
 Charlton et al. (1999): The introduction of television
in St Helena in 1995 did not increase the observed
aggression in primary school children.
Agency Theory
 Milgram argues that people may enter an “agentic
state” where they choose not to take responsibility of
their actions and become the tool of an authority. This
agentic state may lead to violent behavior. This is a
situational approach
 Examples: Milgram (1963), My Lai massacre
 Generalisability (e.g. Charlton, 1999)
 Correlation, not causation (e.g. Eron 1986)
 Dispositional factors of violence( e.g. serotonin,
testosterone, prefrontal lobe damage, psychopathy)
 Ecological validity issue (e.g. Milgram 1963)
 Has been replicated, use of controls (Milgram ,1963;
Cohen & Nisbett, 1995)