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The frustration-aggression hypothesis (Dollard et al. 1939) proposes that aggression is caused by FRUSTRATION resulting from a

“ event or stimulus that prevents an individual from attaining some goal.”


The frustration-aggression hypothesis therefore sees aggression as a CATHARTIC release of the build-up of frustration. This is based on Freud’s psychodynamic explanation.

Frustration therefore leads to the arousal of an aggressive drive, which then leads to aggressive behaviour.


The source of aggression may be abstract

not physical/concrete eg the economy


The source of aggression could produce punishment

eg a teacher


Psychodynamic theory proposes we have

ego DEFENCE MECHANISMS to protect ourselves.


Sublimation – Using aggression in acceptable activities

eg taking up a contact sport like boxing


Displacement -Directing our aggression outwards

eg punching a wall


Revised Frustration Hypothesis from Berkowitz

frustration does not always necessarily result in aggression
Frustration is also just one of many different types of unpleasant experiences that can lead to aggression, for example; JEALOUSY, PAIN AND LONELINESS can also lead to aggression in individuals.


UNANTICIPATED events which prevent us from achieving our goals are also more likely

to result in aggressive behaviour than anticipated events


Aggression may only occur in the presence of certain cues

For example, cues such as the presence of weapons will be more likely to trigger aggression.


Contradictory evidence against the hypothesis

A study examined baseball games in the US and found that as temperatures increased so did the likelihood that pitchers would display aggressive behaviour towards the batters. Ball speeds were recorded at 90mph towards the batters head for example
reduces the validity or the original hypothesis but increases the validity of the revised


Supporting evidence from lab experiments from Geen

male uni students jigsaw
frustration manipulated: impossible jigsaw, insufficient time or completing it while being insulted
asked to administer shock to conferdate who made mistake
all three groups gave more intense shocks than control
most intense were the ones insulted.
increases the validity


supporting evidence from natural experiments

sweedish football hooliganism examining frustration of fans caused by change in position of club in legue and incidents by supporters
when team performed worse, more objects thrown onto field
one position frop 5% more unruly behaviours
absolute postion did not affect behaviour, supporters only showed aggression when failed expectations of good performance
increases validity that unanticipated frustration links to higher aggression


contradictory evidence from lab experiments

essay on a sensitive topic and will be evaluated by peer
given feedback by confederate "worst i have ever read"
punching bag for two mins or nothing. game against fictional opponant, punish opponant with blasts of noise
loudness and lenghth of noise indication of aggression
punching bag more aggressive throughout the game than people that did nothing.
reduces the validity, aggression not cathartic but leads to future aggression