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The Cognitive Neo-Association Theory: How It Applies To Aggression (Essay Sample)


Discuss what cognitive neo-association theory is and how it applies to aggression.


The Cognitive Neo-Association Theory

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The Cognitive Neo-Association Theory

Generally, anger is an impartially specific syndrome of motoric or cognitive responses produced within a given situation that is related to the urge to hurt a target (Berkowitz, 2012). People become angry due to various reasons such as losing patience or traumatic events. Anger can also be a result of frustrations. When a person becomes angry, they develop a desire to act in an aggressive manner, though not necessarily in outward physical violence. The cognitive neo-association theory explores more about the connections between anger and aggression.

Also known as the negative effect theory, the cognitive neo-association theory was proposed by Leonard Berkowitz. The theory suggests that anger and aggression are caused by negative experiences and feelings (Berkowitz, 2012). The cognitive neo-association theory assumes that emotions, memories, and plans for actions are linked together into interconnected nodes in the brain. When one part is activated, it stimulates the immediate surrounding associations. Berkowitz states that when an individual perceives something, the experience gathered is encoded in the memory. Events such as pain, hot weather or a loud noise could produce a negative effect that could also lead to anger. In addition, the accumulation of such negative involvements in an individual’s consciousness results in the stimulation of automatic responses. The theory suggests that when an idea is triggered or primed, the activation spreads to related ideas, causing an increase in their initiation. The cognitive neo - association also includes cognitive processes that are highly rated such as attributions and appraisals. For example, when an individual is motivated they tend to think of how they feel. Such casual attributions

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