This essay will explore the nature versus nature debate and discuss the considerable controversy that still exists over the origin of aggression in humans. Therefore looking at whether aggression is the result of genetically inherited biological drives and impulses carried down from our ancestors which were necessary for our survival, or whether it is a part of human nature that has come from our social and environmental situation, acquired through experience and learning.
Firstly it is important to clarify the differences between frustration, anger and aggression and then to recognise the relationships between them. Frustration is an emotional response or feeling of tension that occurs when we face opposition or our efforts are blocked which can be related to being disappointed and dissatisfied, usually associated with a perceived resistance to the fulfillment of doing or achieving something. Causes of frustration can be internal and external. The internal frustration may arise from fulfilling desires, needs and personal goals, whereas the external causes involve conditions outside of an individual such as work, driving, relationships and environment. Frustrate means to prevent (a plan of action) from progressing, succeeding, or being fulfilled. Prevent (someone) from doing or achieving something. Cause (someone) to feel dissatisfied or unfulfilled (Chrysalis 2013).
Anger is a normal healthy emotion that is part of our body’s survival mechanism and is the response designed to help us survive when faced with a life or death situation, which is known as our ‘fight or flight’ response. Anger also has both external and internal causes, the external usually being something that has happened to us, a situation, an event or other people’s behaviour. The internal causes of anger are our own thoughts, feelings, beliefs and the interpretation of the event or situation that has occurred. The two are closely linked and it is the combinations of both the external and internal causes that make people feel angry. There are many physical effects on the body when a person feels angry, the body is flooded with adrenalin, and the brain diverts blood away from the gut and towards the muscles in preparation for physical exertion, our heart rate, blood pressure and respiration increases, the body temperature rises and the skin perspires, whilst the mind becomes more focused and alert. Anger means a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Provoke anger in someone (Chrysalis 2013).
Anger is part of the ‘fight or flight’ response first described by physiologist Walter Cannon who argued that this response is genetically hard-wired into our brains and designed to protect us from bodily harm. This response actually corresponds to an area of our brain called the hypothalamus and, when stimulated by a trigger, a series of nerve cells start to fire, and chemicals are released that prepare our body for running or fighting. When this fight or flight response is activated chemicals like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol are released into our bloodstream and our bodies undergo a series of very dramatic changes: our respiratory rate and blood pressure increase, blood is diverted away from our vital organs and sent to our muscles and limbs, our awareness intensifies, our sight sharpens, our impulses quicken, our perception of pain lessens, our immune system mobilises and we are prepared, physically and psychologically, to run or to fight. So anger is an emotional, physiological and cognitive state, in other words we feel it as a strong emotion; it has physiological effects on our body and it is also cognitive in that it translates into thoughts which have an effect on what we choose to do, ie retaliate with anger or rationalise the action that has caused the anger and choose to be conciliatory. Therefore everyone has angry feelings from time to time because it is a normal adaptive emotion so