I love you

I love you…no wait. I hate you.  I am not sure, but you are hot.

Throughout your life (and in particular high school) you will feel alot of powerful emotions towards others.  Three of the big ones will be love, hate and attraction.

Aggression and Antisocial Behavior

Coming from a law enforcement background and even teaching in a high school for several years, I have seen countless aggressive acts.  Psychologists distinguish between two types of aggression; instrumental and hostileInstrumental aggression is when the aggressive act has a purpose.  If Ria wanted VanTogenhogan’s lunch money and slapped him aside the head to get Hubba cash, her aggression has a goal, thus it is instrumental.  Hostile aggression is aggression that has no clear purpose.  Now if Kana just felt angry one day and kicked the crap out of Derek she would be displaying hostile aggression.

There are many theories to why aggression exists.  You can guess how many of the main theorists would view aggression.  Freud may view it as a defense mechanism or as a overdeveloped id.  Skinner may view aggression as a reinforced behavior.  But there are two popular theories of aggression:

  • frustration-aggression hypothesis: this theory states that when one becomes frustrated, they are more likely to become aggressive.  Go home and annoy a brother or sister until they can’t deal with you any more and see what happens.  Or when your computer crashes you get frustrated and want to smash it.

  • The second theory of aggression comes from Albert Bandura and his concept of observational learning.  Remember Bandura’s Bobo doll experiment.  He showed time and time again that when an adult models aggressive behavior (in his case hitting the Bobo doll), the child will copy that behavior.  If this theory is even a tiny bit accurate, turn on the cartoon channel and think about what we are teaching our kids.

Prosocial Behavior

Although it is more graphic to study aggression and violence, sometimes people do positive things towards each other, known as prosocial behavior.  Much of the research in this are has focused on bystander intervention, the conditions under which people nearby are more and less likely to help someone in trouble.

The most famous case dealing with bystander intervention was the murder of Kitty Genovese in Kew Gardens, NY.

Kitty was being stabbed by a man named Winston Moseley.  At 3:15 am Winston approached Kitty and stabbed her twice while she cried out for help.  It had been recorded that 38 people heard her cries for help, yet no one came to her aid.  One woman cried down to Moseley, “leave that woman alone”.  Moseley got into his car and left only to come back 10 minutes later to find Kitty struggling to get into her building (again no one even helped her).  In her building lobby, he proceeded to stab her up to 20 times (there were knife would on Kitty’s hands to show that she tried to defend herself).  After she dies, Moseley sexually assaulted her, stole $49 out of her pocket and fled the scene (On an interesting note, when caught later Moseley confessed to two other killings besides Kitty.  He was diagnosed as a violent necrophiliac {one who has sex with dead bodies} and sentenced to death.  The death sentence was overturned and was given life in prison.  A few years later we almost killed a prison guard and took five prisoners hostage.  Years later, he took part in the famous Attica prison rising.  He is still in prison and comes up for parole in 2008.)

However the fascinating aspect of the case is why no one came to Kitty’s aid.  What we have discovered is that the larger number of people who witness an emergency situation, the less likely anyone is to intervene.  This finding is known as diffusion of responsibility.  The larger the group of people who witness a problem, the less responsible any one individual feels to help.  People tend to assume that someone else will take action so they need not to do so.

Another factor influencing bystander intervention is called pluralistic ignorance.  People seem to decide what appropriate actions to take by looking at other people.  If we are sitting in the classroom and we hear a really loud noise and I look at you guys and you guys do nothing, I may think to myself “they must  know what the noise is” and you may look at me and see me do nothing and think to yourselves “he is not doing anything, he must know what is going on”.  No none of us do anything!!!


Why people are attracted to each other is a very popular field of social psychology.  When I say attraction, I do mean sexual “I want to take you on the floor right now” attraction, but I also mean attraction to friends and family (hopefully non-sexual, but to each your own).  Some books say three, but I say there are FIVE factors that influence attraction.

  • Similarity: The most important aspect of being attracted to someone is how similar your attitudes, backgrounds and values are.  I am not saying you can’t have a great night with someone who is very different.  But for a long lasting relationship, birds of the same feather flock together.

  • Proximity: The more you are around something, the more likely you are to be attracted to it.  Remember the mere exposure effect?  Also, the more you are around something, the more likely you are to find similarities between each other.  It seems like there is a fine line between proximity and stalking.

(stalking- get it- haha)

  • Reciprocal liking:  Although the idea never seems to work in elementary school, reciprocal liking is the idea that you are more likely to like someone who like you.  If I like you, I will start treating you nicely.  If I treat you nicely, you are more likely to begin liking me.  In high school this works best for friendships, but as you get older it becomes more common in romantic interests (just my observation).

  • Liking through association: Sometimes we can use Pavlov’s classical conditioning to create attraction.  If I wanted Thandi Newton to like me and I new she loved Godiva chocolate, I would start showing up every time she ate Godiva.  Godiva is the UCS, and the happy feeling is the UCR.  I am neutral, but hope to become the CS when she associates me with chocolate.  Once she experiences acquisition, every time she sees me she will become happy (CR).  Thus, it is bad to pick up people at the dentist office or in math class because they may associate you with those negative stimuli (well math class may be a turn on for some people).

  • Physical Attractiveness:  Although not something I notice (I look at the woman’s soul), some shallow people take looks into consideration when looking for a partner.  In reality, how someone looks is very important.  Research has demonstrated that good looking people are perceived as having all sorts of positive attributes including better personalities and greater job competence (that is the reason people think I am cool and good at my job- I must just be REALLY hot).  What constitutes physical attractiveness can vary across cultures, but one scientific definition is the symmetry of ones face (I will explain in class why this makes no sense).


Ahhh- Love….what can I say about love.  There are SO many different theories on love, it would take a whole volume of books to go through them,  Most theories seem to distinguish between passionate and compassionate lovePassionate love is that my stomach feels weird, I want to be around you all the time, there is no way something so beautiful as you farts, kind of love.  It does NOT last forever.  Hopefully passionate loves turns into compassionate love over time.  Compassionate love is when people learn to live their lives together and depend on each other for support and companionship.  This is not to say in compassionate love do not have passionate experiences (your parents get down every once and awhile).

One last communality among theories of love is that most believe that self-disclosure is vital in feeling love.  Self-disclosure is when one shares a piece of personal information with another.  Close relationships with friends and lovers are often built through a process of self-disclosure.  On the path to intimacy, one person shares a detail of his or her life and the other reciprocates by exposing a facet of his or her own.  Ok- I will go first- when I was in middle school a kid named Alejandro used to bully me and I was too scared to tell anyone- there, now that I got that out we are all on our way to being in love.