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Now when some bit of the individual's behavior is engaged in and is followed by either on purpose or accidentally a satisfying state of affairs as when the behavior is rewarded. You say it in its simplest terms the probability of that behavior is reoccurring is increased shop only and this is how all of us learn to do most of the things we do in life as a matter of fact. Try something out of it leads to a project of a frag. It's a current is increased if it is not rewarded it tends to drop out of odd behavior. But there are some of us who in our random efforts to engage in aggression a tall child knocks someone down discovers by having done so that it's easier for him to get what he wants. Another child shouts out his parents. And find that this is rewarded. Someone else in the playground pushes other kids around. And this gets to be
rewarded. He would be a strange person indeed if aggression didn't become a chronic part of his behavior. The interesting thing about learning is that we are capable of generalizing from one highly specific stimulus situation to a similar one and then to one that is not so similar. So you get the picture of some aggression in society existing because when it first occurred it was rewarded because the individual generalized from the original stimulus situation to a series of other stimulus situations which was similar to what and so he tends to respond aggressively in order to get what he wants out of life. Life has taught him to be aggressive. The interesting thing about this whole theory of learning and I must add it's more than a theory is that a pattern of reinforcement behavior
which is a periodic or sporadic or erratic is likely to make the behavior more persistent than behavior which is regularly rewarded. So what I'm saying is when aggressive behavior occasionally and unpredictably gets rewarded by the society it is very likely to persist in the individual's behavior for a long time after that event. Let me try to simplify that latter interpretation by citing a very simple bit of my own behavior not aggressive but it illustrates the point I make. I continue to put pennies in the joint gum machine in the subways. Although frequently perhaps more often than not the gum doesn't come out. Why do I persist. Because every once in a while the gum does come out in accordance with Skinner's laws of learning this periodic reinforcement is precisely designed to keep
behavior more persistent than any other behavior. And this is why aggressive behavior once learned is extremely difficult to control. But I hasten to add not impossible to control. That's. One type of aggression a second type of aggression was best identified and described by John Ballard. Yeah arm in a monograph published in 1939. And since backed up by considerable research it is the frustration aggression hypothesis and the connection there is a two way connection that makes it possible to predict that where there is frustration there will be aggression where there is aggression. There has been frustration. Now that's the simplest way in which it was originally Express. Careful
research since has not eliminated that hypothesis but has refined it. We know today that aggression is not the only response to frustration one can flee the situation. One can resort to regressive behavior but in healthy individuals the most characteristic response to frustration is aggression under which I include both pain and violence. And one can say that the more significant. In the value system of the individual the need is that is being frustrated. The more intense will be the aggressive response the more frequently the individual has been frustrated. The more intense the aggression will be the more arbitrary or unexpected The frustration is the more
likely is it to be followed by aggression. And perhaps this might help us understand why it is the people who are being helped in the ghettos but not help the Knopf are the ones most likely to riot because they have been led to expect something but involved in the poverty program is not quite being made a full fledged member of our society and so their expectations have been raised. But then in an arbitrary fashion they aren't woven fully into the society. They are frustrated and it is this kind of frustration particularly that leads to strong aggressive response. One can say that much of the violence much of the hate in the ghetto can naturally be traced to long periods of deep frustration of the most basic human needs that exist.
Not the kind of need that I might feel frustrated about because maybe the mayor didn't invite me to a particular meeting which I thought was important and so I suffered some loss of status. People in the ghettos obviously are experiencing frustration much deeper needs needs that come very much closer to the very fiber of continued existence so that one can understand that the prostration of deeply felt needs leads to intense hate and violence. This is not to say that a society ought to encourage accept or develop this kind of aggression but rather to understand it and to understanding it perhaps learn to control it. One of the most fascinating kinds of aggression that we recently have had described for us can perhaps best be illustrated by an experiment that has been run now for about a year and a
half. Up at Yale. New Haven citizens one day red and that in their newspaper inviting them to come to participate in an experiment on learning that was important to science and for which they would be paid. And they arrived at one of ours highly prestigious laboratories and they were told two of them always seem to arrive at the right time one was told that he would be the subject and the other would be the experiment that always turned out that the subject was a stew in cahoots with the real experiment and the person who had really volunteered and would be paid was made the experiment. The purpose of the research was described as an effort to study the relationship between memory and learning and pain. And the subject would be asked to remember a list of what the
psychologist calls had associates pairs of words where when the first is mentioned you have to recall its pass or the second and the list was quite complex and the experiment an hour who I must emphasize was an ordinary citizen from New Haven who might have been motivated to come that because he wanted to make some dollars because he wanted to contribute to scientific advance because he liked the prestige of Yale any of a number of legitimate motives. The experimenter or the volunteer that we're talking about was told that his job would be to present the first of the syllables the words listen for the response of the person. Who is the subject. And when he made a wrong response to give him an electric shock. And then this volunteer had a chance to feel the shock so it was real and he was shown a very impressive piece of apparatus
which turned out to be a risk that so you could increase the intensity of the shot. And these were all clearly marked with a number of variables and they frequently had a verbal description on the knee weak shock. Mild stronger shock painful shock. Dangerous shock. Extremely hazardous shock all around. Eeriest died in the job of this volunteer was as I say every time the subject gave the wrong response. He was to give him an electric shock. But after one response he was to remove that RIAs dot up to the next level and at the third rung response up to the third level and so on. Right around then the experiment was arranged so that every volunteer had a chance to go all the way around and administer what he clearly understood to be a shock that could be hazardous or fatal.
The experiment was arranged under a series of conditions under one condition. The volunteer could not see the subject. The guy who was receiving the pain the victim of his aggression if you will. You can only hear him at some point complaining about its being too painful. At another point saying was too severe he wanted to get out of the experimental occasionally at another point because it was all arranged. His admitting that he had a heart condition please could he get out of that experiment. The second condition was to bring that victim closer to the side to the volunteer and under this circumstance. He could hear and see the contortion under the third circumstance he literally had to touch the subject under these conditions. What proportion of this group of relatively innocent citizens would you expect to carry the experiment to completion and actually administered to an innocent but disciplined in the experiment. A shock that was not only intensely painful but could be
hazardous. Sixty two percent of the population completed the entire experiment. Feeling guilty about it being in anguish about it showing severe signs of tension but nevertheless expressing violence and aggression under the guise of being obedient in an institutional setting. If you guessed much less you're in good company because a group of psychiatrists were asked also to estimate the percentage of a normal population that would engage in this aggressive behavior. And that percentage was about point one tenth of a percent. When at actually 60 percent of a normal population under the guise of obedience vented their aggressions. I guess some of us who had read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich would have understood this on a nonscientific basis that people can be aggressive simply by carrying out the orders
of some establishment or some authority in an institutional setting. So a third type of aggression exists because the aggression is vented. Under the notion that it is socially approved that one is being obedient to the society that one is carrying out some institutionally value will goals and much aggression in our society can be explained in this way. There is a fourth type of aggression that I must touch on before we get to the prescriptive phase of thought that has to deal with aggression which grows our aggressive personality and I don't use this term as a as a simple title to which everyone whoever shows aggression is entitled. But as a matter of fact our society does throw up rather often. People who can properly be labelled aggressive personalities whose chronic characteristic response to society is hate
violence and frequently these people become strong representatives in groups. Will become aggressive around such leadership aggressive personalities are often people with very little ego strength. They are people with little capacity to delay gratification to postpone the satisfaction of needs. They are people often who become intensely emotional under frustrating circumstances. They are people who lack the capacity to discriminate sharply in their environment. People who can't make distinctions between one person and another between one situation and another and people whose life history has taught them well-established habits of aggression. So they're there as there are some examples of hate and violence in our society which are pathological which are the acts of sick people. Miley sick people are seriously sick people.
But this kind of sickness in a group setting can be quite contagious. Now I've got Roger away with with behavior aggression. I have pushed hate into the background hate can be similarly analyzed to aggression. Hate is an attitude which predisposes one toward aggression. The interesting thing about attitude and behavior is that they both influence each other. Holding an attitude of hate. It's easier to engage in violence. Literally engaging in violent behavior can very easily build an attitude of hate. So we have to deal with both of these. I think in looking at my watch and being somewhat alert to the time here perhaps we ought to now move to the third phase of this thought which is the prescriptive phase. Maybe you thought I would spend all of my time on that but I don't think one can speak about controlling violence without first attempting to make a
reasonably ordered analysis of the concepts we're talking about. The most simple proposition one can make. One could say the most oversimplified proposition one can make with regard to hate and violence is that the likelihood that one will engage in violence or aggression directly depends upon the amount of punishment one anticipates. Strong punishment with a high probability of occurrence inhibits aggression. I want to come back to that proposition just a moment ago. A second inhibitor second major inhibitor of aggression is for aggression to be seen as behavior which is inconsistent with one's image job oneself. It's not the kind of Connaught one expects of oneself
and our society at the moment is more hip to punishing aggression than it is to preventing it. And my formular is going to depend more on prevention than it is on punishment. A couple of what I consider to be strong reasons. First of all punishment of aggression does not the potential for aggression. It rather inhibits the aggression. At this moment but may increase the need to be aggressive at the next moment. So it is true that the youngster with a stone in his hand. Is not going to throw that stone if there is a policeman standing behind him ready to punish him. The policeman actually does punish him. He would throw the
stone either. At that moment all right has happened is that the emperor's has been inhibited then with a tremendous potential for its being displaced perhaps to other people perhaps to other times punishment clearly increases the sense of frustration an individual experience is so obvious. Obviously if frustration leads to aggression we are only increasing the potential for aggressive behavior punishment only works to stop aggression at a particular moment when the aggressor is certain that punishment will be administered and so for punishment to be an effective control for aggression it requires almost ubiquitous supervision. One has to be always with the other person constantly
supervising his behavior because those are the only conditions under which punishment works. One obviously must go to the other half of the proposition. How does one prevent the aggression. How does one describe it in fashion that makes it inconsistent with the image of most people in our society. And before I come to that idea with another what I consider to be myth about aggression. I think this is a myth that has grown out of the cycle and what it feels for which I have generally a great deal of respect. I think many of us feel that aggression is thought up that each of us have a certain reserve of aggression that is going to be expressed in one form or another and to prevent negative aggression. You have to provide positive opportunities for aggressive behavior. And so youngsters are encouraged to engage in
football of which I heartily approve but not because it diminishes the likelihood of subsequent aggressive behavior. As a matter of fact the most that could be said about the cathartic value of aggressive behavior is that given an opportunity to engage in aggressive behavior there is always the danger that the individual might discover that it gets him what he wants. So that the principle that we've got to deal with is to prevent aggression to learn how not to fight. If you will simply by not fighting the more we can create a society in which people learn to respond to situations by not being aggressive. The more we are eliminated this as a potential for the future. How can I be more specific than this. Well I would like to give you a nice formula but
I can only give you a couple of propositions that you and I would have to work very hard to describe in detail if they were to be implemented. Obviously one of the most important things we're going to have to do to prevent the aggression is to look at the principle source of it which I have already indicated to be frustration whatever can be done to reduce the intensity of frustration in our society. Whether that be economic restoration or emotional frustration we are doing to prevent subsequent aggressive behavior. Secondly we've got to be concerned to be sure that aggressive behavior is never rewarded. I'm just as interested in not rewarding aggressive behavior as I am interested in not punishing it. These two things are not the same thing. It's important that the aggressor in the GET
HOME not benefit by looting. It's important that the aggressor against the ghetto not be rewarded by whatever hate and violence he shows because the simple laws of learning suggests aggression and gaged in and rewarded will be repeated. And so our society has got to study very carefully where aggression occurs. To guarantee that it is not rewarded not punished either in the sense that I have previously described. Terms of aggression as an expression of obedience to institutional standards becomes clear that if we are really going to prevent aggression then the society has to say as clearly as it can. We are opposed to aggression in our society says this at one level but it doesn't say it too often in its behavior. And I leave to your imagination the literally hundreds of
ways in which our society does not clearly express its concern about aggressive behavior whether we range from a television presentation that might come into our homes or a moving picture of stories that we read or to the fact that we are engaged in a war or to the fact that we sell and make money on guns. All of these present day society which is at least ambivalent about aggressive display which has not yet put itself on record clearly and unequivocally against violence. If we're going to prevent aggression also another subtle way in which we have to work and that is we've got to find a way of holding on to the work of the individual. Because it is only through the strength of the individual
strain a sense of self esteem a sense of worthwhileness that we can play up to self-images which prevents aggression and of course we live in a society which is rapidly expanding its numbers. And I suppose one could figure out the mathematical ratio by which size of population is related to diminishing of the importance of the individual. The more millions of people around the lesser value of all as any one person. And so our society has got to be concerned about doing things that protect the significance of the single human personality. But at the same time. Weaving that personality into cohesive groups. Whose norms are anti aggressive. And this is a challenging proposition. We cannot afford to reduce individuals to anonymity.
We cannot afford to reduce individuals to nothingness and expect that they will have any code of ethics any standard of conduct which is anti aggression. We've got to build human person hourly. But to affect it we've got to weave that personality into cohesive work groups still prescribing aggression frequently lays its most effective patterns in early childhood. How a mother literally feeds her young. Why was he disciplined. How she rewarded the young. How she behaves toward siblings brothers and sisters how she behaves or how he behaves to mate. All have influence on the degree to which aggression will be rewarded. The degree to which frustration is produced on the degree to which aggression will be carried out as obedience on the degree to which people can
become aggressive personalities and so to the extent to which we develop massive training programs and effective child rearing to that extent we can also control aggression. I want to reduce it perhaps to a single paragraph. One controlled aggression by being careful not to focus on the aggression but rather on its cause behavior ever effectively treated by dealing with symptoms. When causes persist while the aggression is what occupies the focus of our attention. If we are literally going to control aggression we're going to have to get to its roots and I've tried to describe some of those roots and perhaps I might conclude with a paragraph I've drawn from a book on aggression written
by Scott. He says it this way and I think this ties very nicely into the theme of these lectures at Cooper Union as a dangerous age in which the race between creative knowledge and destruction is closer than ever before. Destruction has not yet arrived. And knowledge still has a chance. Those of us who have scientific training and ability should do everything in our power to speed creativity and to slow down destruction. Thank you very much. We see I see. Ya you heard Timothy W. Costello deputy mayor and city administrator of the city of New
York as he spoke on the topic. The control of hate and violence. This was another program in the series. Peace love and creativity the hope of mankind. On our next program Joseph Campbell professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College will discuss the mythology of war and peace. These programs are recorded at the Cooper Union by station WNYC New York. The series is made available to the station by the national educational radio network.
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Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind
Control of hate and violence, part two
Producing Organization
WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents the second part of a lecture by Timothy W. Costello, deputy mayor, city administrator, New York City.
Series Description
This series presents lectures from the 1968 Cooper Union Forum. This forum's theme is Peace, Love, Creativity: The Hope of Mankind.
Social Issues
Media type
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Producing Organization: Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Speaker: Costello, Timothy W.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-10-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:45
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Chicago: “Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind; Control of hate and violence, part two,” 1968-02-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
MLA: “Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind; Control of hate and violence, part two.” 1968-02-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind; Control of hate and violence, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from