The first psychological explanation of institutional aggression is it within groups. The first form of aggression this explains is the origins of institutional aggression, the first factor being the importation model founded by Irwin and Cressey. This is because it has been found that prisoners aren’t blank slates when they enter prison, they bring their own social histories and traits with them which influence their adaption to the prison environment.
The second factor is the deprivation model founded by Stefensmeier. It was found that prisoners aggression is the product of the stressful and oppressive conditions of the institution itself. These conditions include lack of privacy, the loss of personal rights and having a strict regime. All these factors contribute to a lack of freedom which arrivals aggression.
it has been found that social context has a strong influence of people’s willingness to harm others. For example, Zimbardo’s prison study had to be stopped after six days as the guards had become too viscious towards the prisoners. Another explanation for why hazing occurs is that there are notions that real men need to have physical and mental toughness as well as being obedient to superiors and it is perhaps these perceptions which account for why there are few female hazing deaths. For example, one study found that only three of sixty hazing deaths were women.
Commentary on hazing includes research support, firstly that studies have supported the concept of hazing finding that it is also used to establish dominance in institutions other than colleges. For example, in prisons domination of the weak was seen by inmates as essential to maintaining status, with passive behaviour being interpreted as weakness or vulnerability. Hazing commentary also includes problems of definition since many people that are exposed to hazing regard it as innocent fun. For example, a study of American students showed that one in five reported they had experienced behaviours that met the researcher’s definition of hazing, yet only one in twenty thought that they had been hazed.
The second explanation of institutional aggression is between groups. The first form of aggression this can explain is genocide. This first focuses on dehumanisation since humans usually have moral inhibitions about killing others, but this changes if the target group is dehumanised so that its members are seen as worthless animals and therefore aren’t worthy of moral consideration. For example, in the Rwandan genocide the influential Hutu-controlled radio station encouraged Hutu listeners to murder their Tutsi neighbours by calling the minority Tutsi cockroaches. Genocide focuses secondly on obedience to authority.