Psychology - Do TV and Video games affect young people's behaviour?

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Nature vs Nurture 

  • Is our behaviour based on our biology or the environment around us?
  • Biological theory sees aggression as something that comes from our body and we are born with(genes, chromosomes, hormones, etc.)
  • We are driven to be aggressive through the levels of testosterone or damage to our amygdala
  • Social learning theory believes that we learn aggression from the people around us
  • We are motivated to be aggressive through vicarious learning from observing other people
  • Both theories are similar because:
    • Both theories have strengths and aggressive behaviour is probably caused by a combination of both
    • They are difficult to study - we can't open people's brains to study their amygdala and can't easily test the effects of observational learning over a long time  
    • They're difficult to test because of ethical reasons of testing on people
    • They have been criticised as it may be that the reverse of the theory might be true - aggressive children might like watching aggressive TV

The role of the brain and hormones in aggression

  • Amygdala - a brain structure thought to be involved in aggression
  • Nature - what we are born with
  • Limbic system - an area of the brain involved in emotion
  • Hormones - chemicals produced by the human body that sends signals to organs around the body via the bloodstream
  • A person can be aggressive because of their biological make-up
  • Scientists haven't found a gene responsible for aggression as research has focused more on how the brain functions and how areas of the brain are involved in aggression
  • The limbic system is called the 'emotional area' of the brain because it is responsible for the emotions needed for survival, like fear and aggression
  • People with emotional disorders have been shown to have had damage to the limbic system
  • The amygdala recognises emotion, creates emotional responses and produces aggression
  • In animal studies removing the amygdala makes the animal very calm whereas damage to this area may cause increased levels of aggression
  • A human case study that offers evidence that the amygdala might cause aggression is Charles Whitman who shot 13 people after leaving a note saying he was convinces something was making him aggressive and an autopsy revealed a tumour pressing against his amygdala
  • Human and animal brains are similar, but not similar enough to make direct comparisons
  • It is unethical to damage human brains to see if it results in aggression, therefore, it is difficult to tell if the limbic system and the amygdala are involved in aggressive behaviour or not, as there is limited direct proof
  • In almost every culture, males are far more aggressive than females and could this be because of testosterone?
  • Testosterone is secreted by the adrenal glands and testes and is needed to produce sperm, develop the male reproductive system and produce male secondary sex characteristics
  • Women also have testosterone but males produce ten times more
  • Animal research has shown that injecting testosterone increases levels of aggression whilst removing the testes (castration) decreases the level of

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