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Aggression in Sport

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Olivia Vetere

on 11 May 2015

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Transcript of Aggression in Sport

Aggression in Sport
Defining Aggression
Psychologists define aggression as “any form of behavior directed toward the goal of harming or injuring another living being who is motivated to avoid such treatment”
We speak of “good” aggression and “bad” aggression
Four Criteria of Aggression
It is a behavior
• Aggression is a physical or verbal behavior; it is not an attitude or emotion
It involves intent
• Accidental harm is not aggressive when harm was not intended
It involves harm or injury
• Aggression involves harm or injury, which may be either physical or psychological
It is directed toward a living organism

Good vs Bad Aggression
When sport psychologists discuss aggression in general, they are referring to what many people would call “bad” aggression
What many people call examples of good aggression in sport are labeled assertive behaviors in sport psychology—that is, playing within the rules with high intensity and emotion but without intention to do harm
Types of Aggression
Hostile and instrumental aggression
With hostile (or reactive) aggression the primary goal is to inflict injury or psychological harm on someone else
Instrumental aggression occurs in the quest of some non-aggressive goal
Instrumental Aggression
The clear majority of instrumental aggressive acts occur in conjunction with some type of reactive process
We should think of hostile and instrumental aggression as anchoring the opposite end of a continuum and recognize that at times aggression might involve elements of both types
Most aggression in sport is much more instrumental than reactive
Hostile and instrumental aggression both involve the intent to injure and harm and often cannot be clearly distinguished
Although most sporting aggression is primarily instrumental, that does not make it acceptable
Identifying the causes of Aggression.
Why are some children more aggressive then others?
What causes some athletes to lose control?
Are aggressive individuals born, or a product of their environment?
4 major theories and a unifying frame work
Instinct Theory
People have and innate instance to be aggressive that builds up until it must be expressed.
This is displayed through catharsis, which is aggression being released in sociably acceptable ways
Frustration-Aggression Theory
drive theory
Aggression is the direct result of a frustration that occurs because of a goal blockage or failure.
Most aggressive acts are committed when people are frustrated.
This might not always be obvious and aggression can also be released in socially acceptable outlets such as competitive contact sports
Social Learning Theory
Aggression is a behavior that people learn by observing others who model particular behaviors, followed by receiving reinforcement for exhibiting similar actions.
Ice hockey - aggression is valued, being aggressive is a way to gain personal recognition
Media - young hockey players watch their heroes on tv modeling aggressive behavior and later receive reinforcement.
Although athletes are not taught to be blatantly violent, athletes do intended to be aggressive during competition.
Trash talking to psych other players out
Illegal aggressive acts in sport are often not penalized, therefore leading to reinforcement. (changing of NCAA rules)
Revised Frustration-Aggression Theory
Although frustration does not always lead to aggression, it increases the likelihood of aggression by increasing arousal, anger, and other thoughts and emotions
Increased arousal and anger result in aggression only when socially learned cues signal the appropriateness of aggression in those situations.
Lashing out
General Aggression Model
Aggression-Performance Relation
- Some coaches and athletes believe that aggressiveness enhances athletic performance, at either the team or the individual level.
- Example: Basketball player Kermit Washington said that being mean helped keep him from being pushed around on the court.
- Football safety Jack Tatum said his team had a greater likelihood of succeeding if he punished his opponent on every play (Papanek, 1977).
Some sport psychologists agree that aggression facilitates performance outcome (Widmeyer, 1984), whereas others believe it does not (Gill, 2000).
The research is difficult to interpret because clear distinctions have not been drawn between aggression and assertive behavior.
Silva (1980) argued that aggression would not facilitate performance because it elevates a person’s arousal level and shifts attention to nonperformance issues (ex. hurting the opponent)
Controlling Aggression and Violence in Sport
Understanding when aggression is most likely to occur.
When athlete is frustrated.
Ex. Losing, unfair officiating, physical pain, or playing below their capabilities.
Perceive failure as a threat to identity.
Modify aggressive reactions.
Controlling emotions directly related to being less aggressive.
Coaches should teach emotional control strategies
Teach appropriate behavior.
Set team norms
Set rules to regulate behavior
Recommendations for Controlling Aggression and Violence in Sport
• Set penalties so the rule-violating behavior results in punishment
• Coaching should emphasize a fair-play code of conduct among participants.
• The media must place in proper perspective the isolated incidents of aggression that occur, rather than making them highlights.
• All authority figures in sport should take part in workshops on understanding and controlling aggressive behavior.
• Should encourage athletes to engage in pro-social behavior and punish those who perform acts of hostility.
• The athletes need to assume responsibility for their actions’
Examining Aggression in Sport:
Special Considerations
Sport psychologists have tested theories of aggression in sport and also examined other important issues. The other important issues are spectator and aggression, game reasoning and aggression, athletic injuries and aggression, athletic performance and aggression, team moral atmosphere and aggression, sport-specific aggression determinants and gender and cultural differences.
In response to concerns about fan violence, sport psychologists have studied spectator aggression
Researchers found that observing a sporting event does not lower the level of the spectator’s aggression but watching some violent contact sports actually increases a spectator’s readiness to be aggressive
Fan aggression more likely with younger disadvantaged male spectators in crowded conditions under the influence of alcohol.
Fans may just go to games for violent behavior as a source of enjoyment
Game Reasoning
Game Reasoning (bracketed morality) - double standard where athletes view some aggressive acts as inappropriate in general but appropriate in the sport environment.

Problem: people learning and believing its okay to be more aggressive in sport than in other life contexts, risk: aggression carries the risk of injury and harm.
Athletic Injuries
Aggressive play is related to athletic injuries
Katorji and Cahoon (1992), Hayes (1975)
Athletic Performance
Some sport psychologists agree that aggression facilitates performance outcome (Widmeyer, 1984) where others believe it does not (Gill, 2000).
Team Moral Atmosphere and Aggression
Athlete aggressiveness is influenced by team norms and aggressiveness perceptions as well as coach support for such norms.
Coaches and teammates play an important role in creating a team moral atmosphere that influences aggression in athletes.
Sport-Specific Aggression Determinants
Specifically athletes behave aggressively because: someone has committed aggression against them, the opposition has annoyed them, they are highly ego oriented and have a low level of moral development, they want to show how tough they are, they believe it is part of their role, and they feel group pressure to be aggressive.
More frequently teams compete with each other; the more likely they are to be aggressive. (Rivalries)
Gender and Cultural Differences
Males exhibit high frequencies of aggression when compared to females
Cannot assume the experience of athletes and exercisers from other cultures will understand aggression in the same manner that we do here.
Lets Play!
beliefs, attitudes, traits, long term goals, and beliefs
Internal State
hostile thoughts
increased arousal
frustrating conditions, provoked, cues, pain
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