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I am Shivali Patel, a 27-year-old housewife. Due to the riots, our family has been in the house most of the time. I am unable to understand why these aggressive acts are going on for more than a month. It is beyond a reaction. I would like an insight into the tendencies of humans to be so aggressive and why it is so.

We attack, hurt, and sometimes kill each other; we aggress verbally by means of insults or attempts to damage another’s reputation and wars always seem to be happening someplace. Hostile aggression has as its goal harming another person. Instrumental aggression is when the individual uses aggression as a way of satisfying some other motive like gaining attention or using threats to force others to comply with their wishes. On a biological level, all of us have aggressive traits within us. The implication of this is that since we are, by nature, aggressive creatures, fights, wars, and destruction have been and will continue to be a major part of the human story on the planet earth. The frustration of motives has also been proposed as a basic cause of aggression. Frustration occurs when motivated behavior is thwarted or blocked so that goals are not reached. Some people use other methods to react to frustration like withdrawing from the situation, giving up, using alcohol or drugs or on a more positive note, by increasing their efforts to overcome the frustration. Whether frustration results in aggression seems to depend on two factors. First, the frustration must be intense. In part, the strength of the frustration depends upon the expectation of the person of reaching the goal; the thwarting of high expectation can be an effective instigator of aggression. In this connection, it is interesting to note that civil disorders like riots are instigated, not by the most downtrodden members of the society, but by those who, while frustrated, also have some expectation that the social goals they are striving for can be reached. Aggression is more likely when the frustration is perceived as unjustified and aggression may not occur at all if the thwarting of motives is considered justified by the frustrated individual. Aggression can be bred in us in daily interactions. A verbal insult or negative evaluation from another person can be a precipitating factor. The insult is interpreted as an aggressive act and this aggressive act arouses aggression in the person being insulted, and this person responds with counter aggression. Especially, in public situations in which we are trying to maintain our esteem in the eyes of others, counter aggression to insults is likely to intensify the original aggression, and a vicious circle of escalation results, which can lead, ultimately, to physical aggression. Another important social cause of human aggression is compliance with an authority to orders us to aggress against others. Presence of weapons also is more likely to increase the aggression in us. Large-scale aggression develops when one or more hotheaded individuals commit an initial act of violence. This leads to angry muttering and a general milling about predominates. Once the first blow is struck, the first brick hurled, the first weapon fired, a destructive riot quickly ensues. It seems reasonable to view the persons who initiate violence in such situations as aggressive models. Modeling is most effective if the aggressive behavior is seen as being both justified and achieving a reward and if the watcher is already angry. Modeling is said to work because it serves to direct the observer’s attention to one of the several possible behavior sequences (aggression instead of attempts at ingratiation, perhaps; show the observer that certain behaviors are all right, thus decreasing the inhibitions to aggression; enhance the emotional arousal of the observer which, under some conditions can facilitate aggression; and show the observer some specific aggressive actions that may be copied. There are certain methods of controlling human aggression also. Changing the instigators of aggression might well be expected to decrease the aggressiveness in our society. Fewer aggressive models and instances where aggression pays off might help. Punishment for aggression is also an effective approach. Chastisements, fines, loss of social acceptance, embarrassment, imprisonment and the like can serve as punishers. Punishment seems to work best when it is strong, when the aggressor is relatively sure of receiving it, when it immediately follows aggressive behavior, when the instigation for aggression is relatively weak, when the payoff for aggression is not great and when the person perceives the punishment as being legitimate and appropriate. Otherwise, punishment may not be very effective, as it seems to be the case with its use in most societies as a means of controlling crime and other aggressive acts. When punishment is used ineffectively, it may actually increase aggressive tendencies. Punishment is a frustrator, and it may therefore further arouse anger in the person being punished. Furthermore, it is, in itself, an aggressive act, which provides a model for aggression. The other method is catharsis. It refers to venting an emotion or getting it out of one’s system. It may help only for a short time and does not decrease the likelihood that we will aggress in the future against the things, which makes us angry. Another method is to use certain emotions, which are incompatible with aggression. Thus, anger may disappear when a person is induced to smile, feels concern about the object of his attack or perhaps is mildly sexually aroused. These emotions are incompatible with anger and aggression and thus serve to lessen it. In this way, aggression has various manifestations and it is imperative to control it as uncontrolled aggression can lead to unfathomable destruction.