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Psychology Aggression 16 marker

Hi if someone could give feedback on this it would be appreciated.

Question: Describe and evaluate the one or more of the following biological explanations for human aggression: neural, hormonal, genetic.
One hormonal explanation of aggression is that human aggression is controlled by testosterone levels in the body. High testosterone levels have been found to be related with aggression in men. Take for instance, Wagner (1979) found that when mice were castrated (had their testes removed) their levels of aggression decreased. This suggests that testosterone is implicated in aggression. However, this study is an animal study and it is therefore difficult to generalize it to human beings. This is because animals have a different physiology to us and so therefore processes that occur in rats may not apply to human beings.





Another biological explanation of aggression is that aggression is caused by a faulty MAOA gene. The MAOA gene produces the enzyme that mops up left over neurotransmitters e.g., dopamine and serotonin and also breaks them down. It has been found that a low activity MAOA gene can be implicated in aggression. Caspi (2002) found that 85% of males with a low activity MAOA gene and experienced some form of childhood maltreatment developed antisocial behaviors. They also found that males with high MAOA activity did not develop antisocial behaviors even when they experienced some form of childhood maltreatment. This would suggests that aggression does have a genetic component and can therefore be predicted in individuals.



In addition to this, one biological explanation of aggression is that it is regulated by the limbic system. The limbic system is thought to be involved in our behavioral or emotional responses, especially those needed for survival e.g., the fight or flight response. The amygdala, which is found in the limbic system, is thought to be the emotional processing center in humans for aggressive drives. Wong et al conducted an experiment that included doing an MRI of 19 violent male criminals and then compared this to 20 'normal' control participants. He found that the amygdala volume of the criminals was significantly smaller than the amygdala volume of the control group 'normal participants.' This would suggest that the amygdala in the limbic system does play a role in the incidence of aggression. However, the validity of this research could be questioned because it may suffer from gender bias. Only male participants were used in the experiment so it could be argued that the results of this experiment that the results of the experiment cannot be generalized to women and therefore it suffers from beta bias.



Finally, another explanation of aggression is the neurotransmitter serotonin. It has been proposed that low levels of serotonin in the brain causes aggression. Mann et al investigated this by administering a drug that reduced serotonin levels to 35 healthy adults. The researchers then used a questionnaire to assess aggression in the participants after administering the drugs. The results of the study found that levels of aggression in males increased after administering the drug but did not increase in women. This would suggests that serotonin is a component that plays a role in the incidence of aggression but this conclusion cannot be applied to women as the results of this experiments suggest otherwise. This research demonstrates the issue of beta bias in the research of aggression. Females and males may not be subject to the same physiological factors when explaining aggression.
Reply 1
Original post by sogieva
Hi if someone could give feedback on this it would be appreciated.

Question: Describe and evaluate the one or more of the following biological explanations for human aggression: neural, hormonal, genetic.
One hormonal explanation of aggression is that human aggression is controlled by testosterone levels in the body. High testosterone levels have been found to be related with aggression in men. Take for instance, Wagner (1979) found that when mice were castrated (had their testes removed) their levels of aggression decreased. This suggests that testosterone is implicated in aggression. However, this study is an animal study and it is therefore difficult to generalize it to human beings. This is because animals have a different physiology to us and so therefore processes that occur in rats may not apply to human beings.



Good first starting paragraph, it’s a little generic with your evaluation of animal studies but it’s a solid paragraph to get the ball rolling. Maybe mention that T is produced in the testes to show a bit more knowledge, you’ve implied it but really show the examiner you understand what you are talking about.




Original post by sogieva


Another biological explanation of aggression is that aggression is caused by a faulty MAOA gene. The MAOA gene produces the enzyme that mops up left over neurotransmitters e.g., dopamine and serotonin and also breaks them down. It has been found that a low activity MAOA gene can be implicated in aggression. Caspi (2002) found that 85% of males with a low activity MAOA gene and experienced some form of childhood maltreatment developed antisocial behaviors. They also found that males with high MAOA activity did not develop antisocial behaviors even when they experienced some form of childhood maltreatment. This would suggests that aggression does have a genetic component and can therefore be predicted in individuals.



This next paragraph I think there’s a lot more evaluation that could be done. You mentioned how the study found they have low activity of MAOA gene AND experienced some form of childhood maltreatment… that’s a massive variable. I would strongly argue this study lacks internal validity, is it really measuring the effect of MAOA genes? How do we know it’s the biology that’s causing the anti social behaviour not the maltreatment? That can also be linked into nature vs nurture. So there’s a lot more that could be said to pull that paragraph from a basic one to something really quite complex.
If you know about the sample size of men, their ethnicity, country of origin etc that could also be evaluated on its generalisability to the wider population.

Original post by sogieva


In addition to this, one biological explanation of aggression is that it is regulated by the limbic system. The limbic system is thought to be involved in our behavioral or emotional responses, especially those needed for survival e.g., the fight or flight response. The amygdala, which is found in the limbic system, is thought to be the emotional processing center in humans for aggressive drives. Wong et al conducted an experiment that included doing an MRI of 19 violent male criminals and then compared this to 20 'normal' control participants. He found that the amygdala volume of the criminals was significantly smaller than the amygdala volume of the control group 'normal participants.' This would suggest that the amygdala in the limbic system does play a role in the incidence of aggression. However, the validity of this research could be questioned because it may suffer from gender bias. Only male participants were used in the experiment so it could be argued that the results of this experiment that the results of the experiment cannot be generalized to women and therefore it suffers from beta bias.



Better evaluation of validity here, but again I think you could definitely expand on the possibility of other variables. All the men are in prison who are violent criminals, could that impact their brain? Do any of these men have issues in their past? Again could mention sample size and cultural significance if you know where the study took place.

Original post by sogieva


Finally, another explanation of aggression is the neurotransmitter serotonin. It has been proposed that low levels of serotonin in the brain causes aggression. Mann et al investigated this by administering a drug that reduced serotonin levels to 35 healthy adults. The researchers then used a questionnaire to assess aggression in the participants after administering the drugs. The results of the study found that levels of aggression in males increased after administering the drug but did not increase in women. This would suggests that serotonin is a component that plays a role in the incidence of aggression but this conclusion cannot be applied to women as the results of this experiments suggest otherwise. This research demonstrates the issue of beta bias in the research of aggression. Females and males may not be subject to the same physiological factors when explaining aggression.


Finally this paragraph again you’ve clearly got the knowledge however I think you’ve glossed over the fact they used a questionnaire. Apply your research method’s knowledge and evaluate that as a means of collecting data. Is a questionnaire the best way of measuring aggression? What were the questions they used eg were they open ended or leading? Do you think social desirability would have been at play? Could there have been confirmation bias?

All these little things are good to include because it’s existing knowledge that can be applied to your essays across the board! The less niche stuff you have to remember in psychology the better because there is so much to learn.

If you can do this essay without your notes and remembering the studies then that’s excellent and a great foundation 😌
Reply 2
Original post by ALEreapp
Good first starting paragraph, it’s a little generic with your evaluation of animal studies but it’s a solid paragraph to get the ball rolling. Maybe mention that T is produced in the testes to show a bit more knowledge, you’ve implied it but really show the examiner you understand what you are talking about.






This next paragraph I think there’s a lot more evaluation that could be done. You mentioned how the study found they have low activity of MAOA gene AND experienced some form of childhood maltreatment… that’s a massive variable. I would strongly argue this study lacks internal validity, is it really measuring the effect of MAOA genes? How do we know it’s the biology that’s causing the anti social behaviour not the maltreatment? That can also be linked into nature vs nurture. So there’s a lot more that could be said to pull that paragraph from a basic one to something really quite complex.
If you know about the sample size of men, their ethnicity, country of origin etc that could also be evaluated on its generalisability to the wider population.



Better evaluation of validity here, but again I think you could definitely expand on the possibility of other variables. All the men are in prison who are violent criminals, could that impact their brain? Do any of these men have issues in their past? Again could mention sample size and cultural significance if you know where the study took place.



Finally this paragraph again you’ve clearly got the knowledge however I think you’ve glossed over the fact they used a questionnaire. Apply your research method’s knowledge and evaluate that as a means of collecting data. Is a questionnaire the best way of measuring aggression? What were the questions they used eg were they open ended or leading? Do you think social desirability would have been at play? Could there have been confirmation bias?

All these little things are good to include because it’s existing knowledge that can be applied to your essays across the board! The less niche stuff you have to remember in psychology the better because there is so much to learn.

If you can do this essay without your notes and remembering the studies then that’s excellent and a great foundation 😌


Thank you very much! This was very helpful and ill be sure to implement this feedback in my next 16 marker. :smile:

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