Psychology-Institutional Aggression Essay

766 Words Nov 8th, 2010 4 Pages
Outline and Evaluate explanations of Institutional Aggression.

Institutional Aggression can be defined as aggressive behaviour that occurs within an institution and is motivated by social forces, rather than anger or frustration. An institution usually refers to an organisation or place of confinement with its own social roles where behaviour is formally restricted and under the control of specific staff; for example, prisons, hospitals, army camps and boarding schools.

The ‘importation model’ proposed by Irwin and Cressey (1962) claims that prisoners bring their own social histories and traits with them into prison, and this influences their adaptation to the prison environment, Irwin and Cressey argue that prisoners are not ‘blank
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There was a small but significant relationship between gang membership and prison aggression, suggesting that subcultural values had been imported into prisons by gang members. However, this was a correlational study and therefore it is impossible to determine cause and effect.

The ‘Deprivation model’ argues that prisoner or patient aggression is the product of the stressful and oppressive conditions of the institution itself ( Paterline and Peterson,1999). These include crowding, assumed to increase fear and frustration levels, and staff experience. For example, Hodgkinson et al. (1985) found that trainee nurses are more likely to suffer violent assault than experienced nurses, and in the prison setting, length of service was also a significant factor, with more experienced officers being less likely to suffer an assault ( Davies and Burgess, 1988).

There is substantial research evidence to support that peer violence is used to relieve the deprivation imposed by institutional cultures such as prisons. McCorkle et al. (1995) found that overcrowding, lack of privacy and the lack of meaningful activity all significantly influence peer violence. However research in this area is not consistent in its findings and poses ethical issues concerning the fact that the researcher was observing violent men in a stressful atmosphere. Research in psychiatric institutions for example, (Nijman et al. 1999)

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