As we consider the topic of violence, it is important that we understand the role of anger as it relates to aggressive or violent acts.
How often does anger lead to aggression ?
Surprisingly enough, angry feelings and responses that do not result in aggression far outweigh responses that lead to aggression. In the widely-acclaimed studies by Averill only 20% of the angry responses were described as leading to physical aggression. So, the good news is that 80% of the time, anger does not result in an aggressive reaction.
In order to deal with the problem of violence it seems prudent to learn what prevents people from being aggressive as well as what causes physical aggression in 20% of angry responses. It is interesting to note in the same study by Averill, 50% of anger episodes involved someone the angry person loved or knew well.
What is aggression?
Aggression is an overt physical or (sometimes) verbal behavior that may intend to cause harm to another person, object or system.
- Aggression can be used to remove an obstacle that is blocking a goal-directed behavior.
- Other times, emotional or hostile aggression is based on an urge to attack someone due to deep feelings of shame, fear or low self-esteem.
- Aggression can also occur when people seek stimulation that occurs as a result of high levels of emotional reactivity in victims. This seems to be contagious and often happens in crowd violence.
Are we desensitized or mesmerized by violence?
When we witness acts of aggression and violence, we may make assumptions about it, judge it harshly or ask questions about the senseless nature of it. Most concur that violence is a complex topic to discuss. Violence can take many forms. It can mesmerize or hold a fascination for some people. It can also be a part of a society’s or family’s legacy that emerges and continues from generation to generation.
Obviously, violence perpetrates physical and emotional injury and harm to human life. Violence can escalate in a relationship, a family, a street gang or among a population. In order to find ways to prevent violence, we should not only better understand it but examine issues that contribute to it. In so doing, it is my hope that we can create knowledge, further understanding and initiate action steps to help reduce violence and its horrid impact in our lives.
Stay tuned: series on preventing violence upcoming
In my next few posts, we will take an honest look at this controversial and difficult issue as we explore ideas about preventing violence in our relationships, homes and communities. I think it is essential that this topic be on the forefront of our public discussions because of its devastating impact.
As we look at current research on violence, we will, hopefully, discover some new ways to deal with volatile circumstances.
Thanks for reading
I do appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. I hope the information shared and discussed here will be beneficial to your life and family.
Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network