Pain as a cause of aggression

  • Ulrich R
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Aggressive behavior can be elicited by aversive stimuli as an unconditioned reflex. Electric shock, heat, physical blows, and intra-cranial stimulation are among the stimuli which will elicit fighting. Various characteristics of the stimulus-such as frequency of presentation, intensity, and duration, in the case of shock-and of the environment in general, influence the rate at which pain-elicited fighting occurs. Characteristics of the animals-such as sex, age, sensory impairment, species, and social experience- also influence the occurrence of respondent aggression.Aggression can be conditioned according to both the operant and the respondent paradigms. Since both operant and respondent aggression can occur concurrently, interesting interactions result.Depending upon a number of variables, respondent aggression exerts a disruptive influence on social behavior controlled by aversive stimuli. The interference of aggression with behavior maintained by aversive stimuli may cause us to revise our opinion of the efficiency of aversive stimuli in social situations.Although pain is probably a source of human aggression, further research with infra-human animals, as well as actual research with humans, should elucidate the relationship between aversive stimuli and aggression in man. ©1966 by the American society of zooligists.

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  • Roger Ulrich

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