Discuss Two or More Psychological Explanations

Discuss two or more psychological explanations for institutional aggression. The importation model is a dispositional theory which states that an individual would bring in – import – characteristics from outside of prison which lead them to be aggressive in daily life. This then leads to aggression while incarcerated. Cheeseman said that men have a certain way of behaving, probably why they ended up in prison to begin with, which they then apply to their new setting. Irwin and Cressey found 3 subcultures within prisons, the criminal, the convict and the straight/conventional.
They found that the convict subculture were most likely to be aggressive as they are influenced by deprivation, and bring values of this into the prison setting. Also, certain factors such as age, sex and race can affect the level of aggression you exhibit in prisons, as found by Janus. Support comes from DeLisi who examined prison records of 831 prison inmates from South West USA. They made note of prisoners who had been involved in street and prison gangs. They found a small but significant relationship between gang membership and prison aggression.
This implies that they imported subculture values of being in a gang with them into prisons. Further support comes from Poole and Regoli who looked at juvenile correction facilities and found that inmates who were violent outside of prison where more likely to be violent inside of prison. This shows that they may have imported aggressive characteristics into the prison setting with them. However, in a real life setting this theory isn’t particularly useful, as it does not give any suggestions as to how aggression can be reduced within prisons.

Also it is deterministic to say that people of a certain race, age and education level will be aggressive within prison as it ignores the fact that humans have free will and also would lead to stereotyping within prison. This theory can be considered socially sensitive as people will be stereotyped and treatment towards them by others could change. This would in turn lead to scapegoating and possibly have a negative impact on the persons self esteem. The deprivation model is a situational model.
Situational models say that it is the environment which causes aggression, not the individuals. This model suggests that aggressive behaviour within prisons is due to a prisoner being deprived of 5 fundamental rights that they would have outside of the prison setting. These include liberty –prisoners aren’t trusted to live in the free world, autonomy – prisoners have a lack of power – and security. When these are removed, it can lead to prisoners becoming stressed, anxious and often they act aggressively towards others to release this.
Prison settings can also lead to deindividuation, as prisoners are represented by numbers and wear the same uniform as everyone else, causing them to lose their own identity. This can lead to aggression as individuals do not feel accountable for their actions. Also, the dysfunctional power systems model, outlined by Zimbardo, says that when people are given power without direction It can lead to aggressive behaviour. This is known as the Lucifer Effect, which was Zimbardo’s assertion that situations turn good people evil.
An example that supports this is the treatment of Iraqi prisoners of war in Abu Ghraib. American military police tortured and abused Iraqi detainees after being given power to make sure they were ready for interrogation. This gave them the power to treat prisoners how they wished, without any restrictions on what is acceptable to do to them. This also supports the theory of deindividuation, as the soldiers were anonymous, and dehumanized the prisoners to make what they were doing appear justified.
The deprivation model is culturally bias to a westernized culture, as in some cases where deprivation is common throughout life, prison may actually be a better environment for prisoners than their usual living environment, which would not explain any aggressive behaviour they may have. Also, in terms of applications to the real world, this model is quite effective, as if these deprivations were somehow prevented, it may improve aggression in prisons.

myhomeworkgeeks (28431)
New York University
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