Living in a Social World
Psy 324: Advanced Social Psychology
Spring, 2000

Technology and Aggression:
Press 1...Press 2...Press 3.....

Selection & Analysis by
Scot Chappel, David Heineman
Jennifer Schmit, & Bobby Woods


BC by Johnny Hart

    As demonstrated in class, virtually everyone can identify with the feelings expressed in this cartoon. Aggression has long been an important topic of interest in the field of psychology, and this cartoon depicts an area that has become increasingly studied. Living in today’s world of unending advances, individuals have had to learn to deal with the frustrations that arise in dealing with modern technology. Understanding these frustrations can be accomplished by applying some social psychological principles. Also, the rising use of the internet as a primary means of communication has significantly altered the manner in which many people interact, in both positive and negative ways.

    Aggressive responses are often behaviors based solely on emotion, with little actual thought going in to them. No cognitive control is seen in this type of affective reaction. This type of reaction can be compounded when technology is involved also. Most research discusses aggression in terms of interpersonal interactions, but technology adds another dimension to the problem. In dealing with machines rather than other people, individuals lose a sense of control as well as the ability to persuade that can be used in dealing with people. Immediate aggressive responses can result as one knows he/she is at the mercy of a machine.

    In class we discussed some of the major variables and constructs that influence any kind of aggressive behavior. One of these included any predisposing social variables such as the entertainment media. Just by watching television for a brief period any given time nowadays, one could see how much computer technology has pervaded our lives. We are bombarded constantly with images indicating that the internet is or will be a part of virtually every aspect of our lives. But we also hear stories of the price we have to pay for everybody being connected. Computer hackers were recently able infiltrate places like amazon.com and yahoo, causing a number of disturbances with these websites. All too often we see news stories of how criminals are able to get access to people’s credit cards or how individuals are arrested for distributing child pornography on the internet. Various types of internet crime are now becoming a very important issue in our criminal justice system and a rising field of interest for many lawyers. Everyday we must deal with conflicting images of the good and bad side to the growing popularity of computer technology.

    Another area greatly affected by all this is that of interpersonal relations. People are drastically changing the manner in which they interact with one another. We live in a time period when face-to-face contact is frequently becoming unnecessary. This can have both positive and negative consequences. First of all, with no real personal interaction, issues of prejudice can be eliminated. It is hard to discriminate against a person when you have no idea what he/she looks like. Unfortunately, the flip side to this is that you also have no idea if what another person is telling you is true or not and one can be very open to persuasion in this type of communication. Also, lacking normal everyday interactions can have a very isolating effect on an individual over an extended period of time.

    An aggressive act is usually a behavior that is the result of an immediate emotional reaction. When one is placed in a situation where he/she feels a low sense of control, an aggressive response can be even more likely as one feels the frustration of this loss over command of what is happening.


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Social Psychology / Miami University (Ohio USA). Last revised: Thursday, April 18, 2002 at 15:17:10 . This document has been accessed 1 times since 1 Jan 2000. Comments & Questions to R. Sherman