The Effectiveness of Intervention to Reduce Aggression

A variety of ways of handling aggression have been suggested over the years. One aspect of social learning that tends to inhibit aggression is the tendency of most people to take responsibility for their own actions. But if this sense of responsibility is weakened, the tendency to act more aggressively will increase. (In one experiment, a researcher demonstrated that persons who are anonymous and unidentifiable tend to act more aggressively than persons who are not anonymous.)

There are a number of ways that an individual can reduce aggression. As long as there is a hope that is unsatisfied, there will be frustration that can result in aggression. Aggression can be reduced by satisfying that hope.

Doing something physically exerting or watching someone else engage in aggression directly or indirectly tends to relieve built-up aggressive energies and hence reduce the likelihood of further of aggressive behavior. This is called catharsis. The catharsis líA ¿,


Aggressive play, like wrestling, can lead to aggressive behavior as children get older. (Nick Kelsh/Corbis)

hypothesis also holds that watching an aggressive behavior on television serves a valuable function in draining off aggressive energy.

It has been argued that it might be possible to reduce aggression by presenting the child with the sight of aggressive models who come to bad ends. The implicit theory is that individuals who are exposed to this sight will in effect be vicariously punished for their own aggression and accordingly will become less aggressive.

Other methods of reducing aggression that have been proposed include defusing anger through apology and providing training in communication and problem-solving skills.

Using punishment to reduce aggressive behavior is tricky. It can be effective if it is not too severe and if it follows closely on the heels of the aggressive act.

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