Author: Sensei Lincoln

"The initiation of an attack with the intent to injure" (Bredemeier, 1983)

"A sequence of behaviour in which the goal is to injure another person" (Dollard et al, 1939)

"A behaviour directed against a living target, in which there is a probability greater than zero of imparting a noxious stimulus" (Kaufman, 1970)

"Any form of behaviour directed toward the goal of harming or injuring another being who is motivated to avoid such treatment" (Baron, 1977)

The 3 common points of the above definitions:

1) For an overt behaviour it must be directed against a living target i.e. an opponent thus excluding hitting the desk with a fist.

2) For an act to be aggressive it must be an intent to harm the target, thus excluding unintended injury upon another human being.

3) There must a reasonable expectation that the aggression will be successful and the target harmed. Thus excluding behaviour where the victim will be harmed. i.e. aggressor and victim separated by bars or team-mates.

Types of aggression (Baron 1977).

1) Hostile Aggression:

Goal - injure the other human being

Intent - make them suffer

Reinforcement - pain and suffering caused

This type of aggression is always accompanied by an angry aggressor.

e.g. Baseball pitcher --- high inside fast ball at batter who had angered him clearly attempting to injure the batter- goal is to cause suffering, result of contest irrelevant therefore goal is to harm and not to win.

2) Instrumental Aggression:

Goal - to receive some other external goal.

Intent - to harm the opponent

Reinforcement - the external reward

e.g. Baseball pitcher --- high inside fast ball to establish superiority at the plate - pitcher not necessarily angry at batter but sees hitting the batter as instrumental in obtaining his primary goal (winning).

3) Assertiveness

(Often confused with aggression) involves legitimate, physical, or verbal force to achieve one goal. There is no intent to harm therefore it is not aggression.

*Distinguishing between aggressive acts in sport that are acceptable with those that are unacceptable is based upon three issues.

1. What is morality?

Finding a common moral value is difficult yet essential in defining aggression in sport.

2. Morality in sport compared to everyday life.

(a) The game frame negates morality making sport devoid of moral considerations;

(b) The game frame has no consequence for moral reasoning; or,

(c) the game frame alters moral meanings.

3. Understanding the game.

Every game and sport has its own culture or accepted way of doing things. Understanding this culture is vital in distinguishing between acceptable behaviour and unacceptable behaviour.

e.g. The football fanatic sees the hard hip and shoulder as acceptable aggression but the chess player may find this unacceptable.

Therefore one’s perspective of the game and the influence of the game’s culture constitute one’s views on aggression in sport.

How does aggression effect performance?

Hostile aggression: performance would appear to wane in light of the aggressor being more concerned with harming the opponent than defeating the opponent. (e.g. Geelong 1995).

Instrumental aggression: performance would be more likely to improve given that the player harms the opponent in order of gaining an advantage. i.e. winning. (e.g. Geelong 1989)

According to Bredemeier and Sheilds, "it will be important to identify ways in which such variables as gender, degree of sport involvement, and external rewards influence reasoning about athletic aggression".