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AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:Defining Aggression, Catharsis hypothesis

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Sport Psychology(psy407)
VU
Lesson 33
AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT
A number of critical questions come to mind as one contemplates the issue of sport aggression. Does
participating in or observing violent sporting events serve as a catharsis, or release from aggressive
tendencies? Conversely, do these events merely teach and encourage further aggression on and off the
playing field? Is it possible to eliminate aggression and violence from sports? If so, how?
In the following two lectures we will be discussing aggression and violence in sport. Topics to be addressed
include:
1.
Defining aggression
2.
Theories of aggression
3.
Catharsis hypothesis
4.
Measurement issues
5.
Fan violence
6.
Performance issues
7.
Situational factors contributing to aggression
8.
Reducing aggression in sport
Defining Aggression
Two factors must be presented in order for a behavior to be labeled aggression. First, the behavior must be
aimed at another human being with the goal of inflicting physical harm. Second, there must be a reasonable
expectation that the attempt to inflict bodily harm will be successful. Consequently, the following behaviors
are not really examples of aggression:
1. Doing destructive violence to an inanimate object such as a door or a water cooler.
2. Unintentionally injuring another person during athletic competition.
3. Aggressive behavior in which there is no chance for the intended victim to be injured (e.g.,
aggressor and victim are separated by bars or by teammates)
Over the years, two basic kinds of aggression have been identified. The first is hostile aggression. For
individuals engaged in hostile aggression, the primary goal is the injury of another human being. The intent
is to make the victim suffer, and the reinforcement is the pain and suffering that is caused. This sort of
aggression is always accompanied by anger on the part of the aggressor. A good example of hostile
aggression occurs when a cricket bowler throws a full-toss at the batsman who has angered him.
The second major kind of aggression is instrumental aggression. For individuals engaged in instrumental
aggression, the intent to harm another individual is present, but the goal is to realize some external goal
such as money, victory or prestige. The aggressor views the aggressive act as instrumental in obtaining the
primary goal. A parallel cricket example for instrumental aggression would be on in which the bowler has
been "ordered" by his coach to hit a batsman in retaliation for some earlier infraction. The bowler is not
necessarily angry at the batsman, but sees hitting the batsman as instrumental in achieving the team goal of
winning the game.
It must be emphasized that neither type of aggression is acceptable. The aggressor is guilty of purposely
inflicting harm with the intent to injure another person. This must be discouraged at all levels of
competition, especially the professional level, because young athletes everywhere emulate the pros.
A third category of behavior that is often confused with aggression is assertiveness, or assertive behavior.
Generally, when coaches encourage their athletes to be more aggressive, what they really want is that they
be more assertive. Coaches want their athletes to assert themselves and make their presence felt.
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Sport Psychology(psy407)
VU
Assertiveness involves the use of legitimate physical or verbal force to achieve one's purpose. However,
there is no intent to harm the opponent. Even if the opponent is harmed as a result of a tackle in soccer, it
is not necessarily aggression. It is merely assertive play, as long as it is within the sprit of the agreed-on rules
and the intent to harm is not present. Assertiveness requires the expenditure of unusual effort and energy,
but if there is no intent to harm, then any resultant harm is incidental to the game.
Theories of Aggression
Theories of aggression fall into four main categories:
1.
Instinct theory,
2.
Social learning theory
3.
Theory of moral reasoning,
4.
The frustration-aggression hypothesis.
Instinct Theory
Instinct theory is based upon the writings of Sigmund Freud and ethologists such as Konrad Lorenz, Freud
(1950) viewed aggression as an inborn drive similar to hunger , thirst, and sexual desire. According to Freud,
aggression is unavoidable since it is innate, but as with any drive it can be regulated through discharge, or
fulfillment. Since humankind is innately aggressive, it benefits society to promote athletic sports and games
that provide a socially acceptable outlet for aggression.
Social Learning Theory
Social learning theory posits that aggression is a function of learning and that biological drive and
frustration are inadequate explanations of the phenomenon. Acts of aggression serve only to lay the
foundation for more aggression, and do not result in reduction or purging of the drive to be aggressive.
Perhaps the leading advocate of social learning theory, relative to aggression, is Bandura (1973). Bandura
proposes that aggression has a circular effect, i.e., one act of aggression leads to further aggression. This
pattern will continue until the circle is broken by some type of positive or negative reinforcement.
Theory of Moral Reasoning and Aggression
Theory of moral reasoning proposes that an individual's willingness to engage in aggression is related to her
stage of moral reasoning. Since human aggression is viewed as unethical, this theory suggests that a
relationship a relationship should exist between the level of moral reasoning and overt acts of athletic
aggression.
Reformulated Frustration-Aggression Theory
As originally presented by Dollard, Miller, Doob, Mourer, and Sears (1939), frustration-aggression theory
proposes that aggression is a natural response to frustration, and that the aggressive act provides a catharsis,
or purging, of the anger associated with the frustration. Frustrations caused by events that are believed to be
arbitrary or illegitimate are particularly galling to athletes.
References
Cox, H. Richard. (2002). Sport Psychology: Concepts and Applications. (Fifth Edition). New York: McGraw-
Hill Companies
Lavallec. D., Kremer, J., Moran, A., & Williams. M. (2004) Sports Psychology: Contemporary
Themes. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers
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Table of Contents:
  1. SPORT PSYCHOLOGY DEFINED:Issue of Certification, The Research Sport Psychologist
  2. SELF-CONFIDENCE AND SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Successful Performance, Verbal persuasion
  3. SELECTING SELF-TALK STATEMENTS:Skill accusation, Controlling effort
  4. GOAL ORIENTATION:Goal Involvement, Motivational Climate
  5. CAUSAL ATTRIBUTION IN SPORT:Fritz Heiderís Contribution, Other Considerations
  6. CAUSAL ATTRIBUTIONS IN COMPETITIVE SITUATIONS:Locus of Causality
  7. MOTIVATION IN SPORT:Social Factors, Success and Failure, Coachesí Behavior
  8. FLOW: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE, Goal Setting in Sport
  9. PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE GOAL SETTING:Clearly identify time constraints
  10. A TEAM APPROACH TO SETTING GOALS:The Planning Phase, The Meeting Phase
  11. YOUTH SPORT:Distress and anxiety, Coach-Parent Relationships
  12. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Information Processing, Memory Systems
  13. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Measuring Attentional Focus
  14. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Personality Defined, Psychodynamic Theory
  15. THE MEASUREMENT OF PERSONALITY:Projective Procedures, Structured Questionnaire
  16. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Athletic Motivation Inventory, Personality Sport Type
  17. SITUATIONAL FACTORS RELATED TO ANXIETY AND MOOD:Type of Sport
  18. ANXIETY, AROUSAL, AND STRESS RELATIONSHIPS:Emotion and Mood
  19. ANXIETY, AROUSAL, AND STRESS RELATIONSHIPS:The Inverted-U Theory
  20. ALTERNATIVES TO INVERTED-U THEORY:Apterís Reversal Theory
  21. COPING STRATEGIES IN SPORT:Measurement of Coping Skill
  22. RELAXATION STRATEGIES FOR SPORT:Progressive Relaxation, Autogenic Training
  23. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Team Energizing Strategies, Fan Support
  24. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Precompetition Workout, Individual Goal Setting
  25. IMAGERY:Skill Level of the Athletes, Time Factors and Mental Practice
  26. IMAGERY:Symbolic Learning Theory, Imagery Perspective. Sensory Mode
  27. IMAGERY:Paivioís Two-Dimensional Model, Developing Imagery Skills
  28. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Defining Hypnosis, Social-Cognitive Theory
  29. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Achieving the Hypnotic Trance, Hypnotic Phase
  30. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Psychological Skills Training Program
  31. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Performance profiling, Performance routines
  32. ETHICS IN SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Competence, Integrity, Social Responsibility
  33. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:Defining Aggression, Catharsis hypothesis
  34. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:The Catharsis Effect, Fan Violence
  35. AUDIENCE AND CROWD EFFECTS IN SPORTS:Social Facilitation, Crowd Hostility
  36. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Measurement of Team Cohesion
  37. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Predicting Future Participation, Team Building
  38. LEADERSHIP IN SPORT:Fiedlerís Contingency Theory, Coach-Athlete Compatibility
  39. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Special Populations, Clinical Patients
  40. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Social Interaction Hypothesis, Amine Hypothesis
  41. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:The Theory of Planned Behavior, Social Cognitive Theory
  42. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Exercise Addiction, Bulimia Nervosa, Muscle Dysmorphia
  43. BURNOUT IN ATHLETES:Overtraining and Overreaching, Recommended Intervention
  44. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ATHLETIC INJURIES:Personality Factors, Coping Resources
  45. DRUG ABUSE IN SPORT AND EXERCISE:Stimulants, Depressants