Biological and Emotional Causes of Aggression

We see all the killing and mayhem daily, and it is easy to think that hostility is hardwired into the human condition. That people are inherently bad and only social norms can rein in their violent impulses. On the other hand, humans are peaceful beings who become hostile due to cultural conditioning.

Explaining Biological and Emotional Causes of Aggression

One area of the brain, the amygdala, controls how we interpret and respond to threats and danger. The amygdala is linked to the sympathetic system, facial reactions, olfactory processing, and the production of stress and arousal-related neurotransmitters, all of which are associated with fear. The amygdala plays a key role in the emotional experience of fear and facilitates the formation of a lasting memory of lessons learned. Both happy and negative outcomes stimulate the amygdala, with the latter having a greater effect on inputs we interpret as dangerous and fear-evoking. To help us avoid similar situations in the future, the amygdala is activated in response to threatening experiences. When confronted by members of a racial outgroup or seeing the fearful looks on other people's faces, the amygdala becomes active

When we get angry and frustrated, our minds and bodies react negatively, which may lead to aggressive actions. The bad emotions we feel in response to unfavorable situations and the accompanying negative thoughts are major contributors to aggressive behavior.

Testosterone and Serotonin are Two Hormones That Might Affect Aggression

Hormones somewhat influence aggression. The male gender hormone testosterone plays a pivotal role in this context since it causes aggressiveness in animals and humans. Testosterone levels have been demonstrated to correlate strongly with aggressive behavior in a wide range of animal studies. Although it appears to be lower amongst people than it is among animals, this connection remains important.

Relationship Between Testosterone and Behaviour

Aggressiveness likely impacts testosterone levels more than testosterone on aggression, and aggression raises testosterone levels momentarily. Aggression and testosterone levels are greater in those who believe they have been insulted and are linked to stress. The testosterone levels of the victors grow while those of the losers fall even while playing an aggressive style like tennis or chess.

The Aggressive Tendencies of Serotonin

New studies highlight the role of serotonin, which has been shown to reduce aggressive behavior. Researchers have shown that low serotonin levels are a reliable indicator of aggressive behavior. Criminals convicted of violent acts committed on the spur of the moment had lesser serotonin levels than those convicted of more deliberate acts of violence.

Alcohol Use exacerbates Aggression

A few reasons why consuming alcohol might make you more aggressive. Alcohol impairs executive functioning, the mental processes that allow us to make plans, set and stick to objectives, reason through complex situations, manage emotions, and resist impulses. The part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex is responsible for executive functions, including regulating aggressive behavior. Therefore, a drunk person's capacity to control his or her aggressive tendencies is diminished by alcohol. People with lower than higher executive functioning skills are more prone to have their hostility exacerbated by heavy, short-term alcohol intake. Intoxication also dulls our awareness of the detrimental consequences of our violence. When sober, we know that acting aggressively might lead to retribution and other difficulties. However, we are less likely to be conscious of these possible repercussions when drinking.

Conflicts Arise from Having Bad Feelings Toward Someone

Negative emotions greatly increase the likelihood of aggression. When we are sick and receive a low grade when our vehicle does not start, we feel furious and disappointed every time. There will be a lot of negative emotions and ideas, and we may act violently as a result. The bad emotions we feel in response to unfavorable situations and the accompanying negative thoughts are major contributors to aggressive behavior.

Arousal-Increasing, Negatively-Affective

When we feel we need to progress toward the most important objectives, we experience frustration. When our computers break when we are writing papers, when our friendships are not working well, or when we are having trouble in class, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and upset. Social comparison has a significant role in shaping our levels of frustration. Humans are much less likely to become disappointed if we can make negative comparisons with significant persons, in which we regard ourselves as doing as well as or greater than they are. However, we may experience annoyance when we feel compelled to make favorable comparisons to others. Getting a worse grade than our peers or being compensated less than our colleagues is disheartening.

Heat Increases Hostility

The violent crime rates are higher in warmer climates, hotter days, and warmer years, and this trend are consistent across different types of weather. The temperature during a baseball game influences more than just the frequency of batters hit by pitches.

Strong Feeling of One's Value

A healthy sense of self-worth or regard for others is incompatible with hostility. This is the inverse of our findings in that we explained how negative emotions cause aggression: when we are in a good mood, we are more inclined to aid others and less inclined to harm those around us. This makes complete sense since emotions are indicators of the degree of danger we are in. When we are in a good mood, we do not feel the need to take any risks or be aggressive.

Abuse Redirected

This happens when one person's bad feelings lead another individual to become aggressive. A recent meta-analysis showed that persons who are provoked but unable to respond to the person who triggered them are more hostile toward a harmless other person, especially toward those who seem like the genuine source of the provocation.


Violence begets aggression, and there are several reasons to anticipate this effect to persist after stopping violent conduct. One way our arousal is raised is when we participate in an action that evokes violent emotions, like hitting a pillow. In addition, we are more likely to repeat violent conduct if we find pleasure in it and get reinforcement for it. To add insult to injury, aggressiveness constantly reminds us that we may react violently to our problems. Overall, seeking relief via acts or depictions of aggressiveness is risky because it is more prone to fan the fires of hostility than extinguish them. Instead of lashing out violently, giving yourself time to cool down or divert yourself from something else is best.

Updated on: 28-Dec-2022


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