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Human Violence Essay, Research Paper

There are many positive and negative aspects and moral consequences of labeling human violence as a biological behavior. This idea has been debated and supported or rejected by Sigmund Freud, Conrad Lorenz, and other noted anthropologists. Some of these philosophers believe that human violence is part of human makeup. In other words, they feel that people are born with these instincts. Other philosophers believe that violence is a learned trait. Through different studies, each scientist tries to fully understand the nature of violence.

Sigmund Freud believes that aggressive behavior comes from “original self subsisting intellectual disposition.” Freud visualized that two opposed classes of instincts create internal human dynamics. These two classes are the Eros and the Thanatos. Freud believes that each human being contains both the Eros and Thanatos. The Eros represents the good inside man. It symbolizes life, creativity, and reaching out or incorporation. The Thanatos represents the evil that lurks inside of man. It signifies death, destructive behavior and withdrawal or elimination. He argues that the basic emotional make up of human beings is negative, aggressive and violent. Freud believes that each man has the same amount of aggressive behavior inside of him. Other philosophers and scientists tend to disagree.

Conrad Lorenz, a theoretical thinker, and Niko Timbergen, an experimentalist, shared ideas and invented many beliefs that agreed with Freud’s views. Just like Freud, they believe that human behavior is biological. However, Lorenz and Timbergen took Freud’s idea to a whole new level. They believe in Super-Normal Sign Stimuli. This is a reaction to violence and aggression that is obtained by visualization. Imprinting is another idea that Lorenz developed. He feels that if you work out what the early sign stimuli are, then you can program the creatures. Lorenz provided many experiments to support his work. He used gulls to prove his theories of super normal sign stimuli. He used chicks to prove his theories of imprinting. After his experiments, Lorenz’s hypotheses were proven to be correct.

I feel that Lorenz’s experiments were a huge step in determining where human violence and anger originate. Some people tend to disagree, saying that experiments on animals cannot be correlated to human behavior. However, I believe that if humans had been used in Lorenz’s experiments, they would act the same as the animals did. In the experiment with the gulls, Lorenz placed a large, fake gull egg next to a real gull egg to see which egg would be attractive to the gulls. The gulls ended up being attracted to the bigger egg. I believe human beings would act the same way. During childhood, children want to open the bigger present. People of bigger stature are held in higher esteem in many people’s eyes and are more successful overall. There is an obsession with bigger -just like animals, humans too are instinctual.

The social learning theory of Bandura attempts to emphasize the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes and emotional reactions of others. Bandura feels that most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling. From observing others, he formed an idea of how new behaviors are performed. On later occasions, the coded information serves as a guide for actions. Bandura developed the Social learning theory. This attempts to explain human behavior in terms of continuous interaction between behavioral and environmental influences. Bandura believes that individuals are more likely to adopt a modeled behavior if it results in outcomes they value.

I do not disagree with this idea, but I feel that Freud and Lorenz are more accurate with their hypotheses. People do learn behavior by observation, however, in my opinion violence and anger are already inside of humans. They are born with these traits and they are in their makeup. There is a constant internal fight to control these impulses towards anti-social behavior. Billy Joel expressed such thoughts in his song “The Stranger”, saying to never let others see the Stranger inside of you. Humans present their kinder, gentler self to the outside world – bottling in and restraining their aggressive inner demons.


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