Critically consider research into the effects of two environmental stressors on aggressive behaviour

Different things can trigger aggression as well as psychological theories of aggression there are also environmental stressors which can also trigger aggression such as temperature and noise. Baron and Bell (1976) looked into the fact that temperature could trigger aggression. They studied the effects of heat on participants to see if it affected their willingness to give electric shocks. They found that when temperatures were between 33-35oC that this increased the level of aggression on the whole.

However they also found that in extreme heat, aggression decreased again. This study would not have been ethically moral as the experiment would have caused a lot of stress to the participants which was the same in Milgram’s electric shock experiment study. as this was a laboratory experiment it would not represent real life situations and would therefore lack ecological validity. Baron also did another study with Ransberger (1978) who also found that incidences of violence could lead to increased levels of aggression.

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Their data was on incidents of group violence which was based on a naturalistic study which has ecological validity and confirms that temperature can act as a stressor leading to an aggressive response, however if temperature increases too high then aggression decreases again. On the other hand, however there are studies which do not support the notion that aggression decreases again when heat becomes extreme. Andersson (1989) found that acts of extreme aggression continued to increase as the temperature rose.

The extreme aggressive cases were that of assault, rape and murder which therefore are less common than everyday aggression. This is also backed by another study by Rotter (1993) who found that sex crimes occurred more frequently when the temperature is higher. Noise is also said to be an environmental stressor and affect our levels of arousal and aggression. Glass et al. (1969) conducted a laboratory experiment where 60 students had to complete cognitive tasks under 4 different conditions: loud or soft played at random or at fixed intervals and also no noise condition.

The galvanic skin response (GSR) was tested. It was found that the random noises produced the most mistakes and the highest GSR and no noise producing the least. Unpredictable noise therefore could act as a stressor and therefore lead to more aggression. This was also a laboratory experiment and therefore lacks ecological validity. Green and McNeil (1969) found that people are liable to be more aggressive in noisy conditions if they are in an environment that suggests violence. It is not know if this study was a laboratory or a naturalistic experiment but it s more likely to be the latter.

In Baron’s study on the effects of temperature his study is supported by laboratory studies but not by real life correlation ones. Laboratory studies lack ecological validity and are not a measure of real life aggression, however temperature and aggression cannot be measured very accurately in real life situations. Alternatively it could be possible that in real life situations the stimuli that provoked people could be more intense and therefore likely to stimulate aggression compared to laboratory experiments.

Laboratory studies are very limited in the conditions they can practically and ethically arrange, while real life studies involve a whole host of uncontrolled variables that might contribute to aggression. There does seem to be convincing evidence that increase in stressors is associated with increased aggression up to a point, but whether aggression continues to rise with increasing stress or whether it then levels off or decreases remains unconfirmed.