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Frustration–aggression theory, more commonly known as the frustration–

aggression hypothesis, ranks among the most seminal and prolific theories

in research on aggression. From its beginnings in the late 1930s until

today, it has been applied and studied in a variety of areas, including

clinical and social psychology, ethnology, sociology, criminology, and

medical research. While frustration–aggression theory has also been used

to explain the behavior of animals (see, e.g., Berkowitz, 1983; Scott, 1948),

the present chapter will focus exclusively on applications in the study of

human behavior. Given the scope and targeted readership of this

handbook and the origin of the theory, the focus will be on the social

sciences, specifically psychology.

The original formulation of the frustration–aggression hypothesis by

Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, and Sears (1939) stated that “the occurrence

of aggressive behavior always presupposes the existence of frustration

and, contrariwise, that the existence of frustration always leads to some

form of aggression” (p. 1). What is especially noteworthy in this definition is

that, unlike the use of the word in everyday language, frustration here is not

understood as an emotional experience but as “an interference with the

occurrence of an instigated goal-response” (Dollard et al., 1939, p. 7). Put

differently, frustration is defined as an event instead of an affective state.

The arguable benefit of characterizing frustration through observable

qualities of events or environmental characteristics is that it allows

description and testing of its causal effects, such as those on aggression,

objectively instead of relying on subjective self-reported introspection.

Looking at the original definition by Dollard and colleagues, one might

criticize their claim to universal validity. Taken verbatim, “the occurrence of

aggressive behavior always presupposes the existence of frustration”

suggests that aggression does not occur without any form of prior

frustration, and the assertion that frustration “always leads to some form of

aggression” implies that aggression is a certain outcome of any frustration.

These deterministic assumptions were somewhat qualified in a 1941

publication by the same authors in which they stated that “frustration

produces instigation to aggression but this is not the only type of instigation

that it may produce” (Miller, Sears, Mowrer, Doob, & Dollard, 1941, p. 339).

In some of the early publications on the frustration–aggression

hypothesis, it was argued that the threat of being punished for aggressive

behavior itself (e.g., through social norms) can also be a frustration that

can, again, increase the inclination to act or react aggressively in further

With regard to the intensity of the aggression, Dollard et al. (1939) put

forth the suggestion that the strongest aggressive reactions are those

directed toward the perceived sources of the frustration. Aggression toward

the source of the frustration is one type of retaliatory behavior (Zillmann &

Cantor, 1976). However, the aggressive response to a frustration can also

be directed toward individuals not responsible for the interference with the

attainment of a goal (Geen, 1968). This is one of the cases in which the

type of aggression is commonly described as displaced. Amsel (1962,

1992), whose frustration theory predicts that frustration occurs when

anticipated reward is reduced, delayed, or removed completely. In a similar

fashion, Hanratty et al. (1972) described frustration as the “withdrawal of an

anticipated reinforce.

One prominent root of frustration that gave rise to its extensive scrutiny in

the field of social psychology is competition between multiple parties

(Deutsch, 1949, 1993). Berkowitz (1989) emphasized that “competitive

encounters are at least partly frustrating as the contestants block each

other’s attempts to reach the disputed goal and threaten each other with a

total loss” (p. 66). While this mainly applies to zero-sum games, in which

the victory or gain of one party implies the loss of the other, it can also
result from multiple parties with different goals competing over shared or

limited resources. Despite its roots in psychology, frustration–aggression

theory has been used not only to study the behavior of individuals and

small groups but also as a basis for macrolevel theories (Coleman, 1987)

that explain aggression within societies (e.g., Berkowitz, 1968; Feierabend

& Feierabend, 1966) or between them (e.g., de Gaay Fortman, 2005). In

the book Why Men Rebel, Gurr (1970) argues that, both on an individual

and a societal level, the repeated and prolonged experience of frustrations

can lead to an outburst of aggression and violence. On the societal level,

such frustrations can, for example, be characterized by severe economic

recessions, a lack of or restricted access to resources, or systematic and/or

institutional discrimination against certain groups. Feierabend and

Feierabend (1966) have called this “systemic frustration”

The Niger Delta region is the Nigeria honey port, the nation treasure. It

bears the country black crude oil (blank goal) which includes 9 states of

which Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-ibom, Delta produce the most oil and yet

surface from significant violence due to what a capture in Frustration

Aggression Theory, relative deprivation theory and Marxian conflict theory.

The frustration aggression theory hear picture that the Niger Delta to be

reward is reduced, delayed or removed completely and restricted access to

their own natural resources. Prior to these the Niger Delta region has the

most expensive low and topical fresh water, forest and quatic act-system

were yam, rice, sugar cane, plantain, pam oil, cassava and timber were

cultivated which same as a mean of survival to the people and the country

were pam oil and other agricultural resource were exported as same as

income to the country. Subsequently became the hub of petroleum

activities, available evidence shows that the various explanations for the

crisis in Niger Delta in the dominant view is that the conflict result from the

accumulated grievance of the community against neglect. The community

is not reconvening a fair share of revenue however a central themes which

runs through the region revolve around the issue of neglect, marginalization

deprivation, poverty disempowerment and under-development. To these

affect the Niger Delta are frustrated because they are poor, the oil has spoil

the land, water and increase the rate of air bone disease and

communicable noes which make them to be aggressive because them are


The initial concept of RD is simple: person may feel deprived of some

desirable thing relative to their own past, another person, person, group,

ideal or some other social category. Stouffer and his colleagues (1949)

intitiated with their study of the American soldier a theoretical direction,

followed by Davis (1959) and Runciman (1966). That treats RD as the

result of an intergroup comparison and uses it to explain social

phenomena. Runciman culminated this specification of RD in intergroup

terms by distinguishing fraternal from egoistic RD.

The development of the concept of RD from stouffer to Runciman was,

therefore, towards its specification in intergroup terms as a social

comparison process that can instigate individual and group behaviour. But

two recent theorists, Gurr and Crosby, reformulate RD individualistic terms

and emphasize egoistic rather than fraternalistic RD. for Gurr, RD is a

perceived discrepancy between an individual’s subjective ‘value

expectation and valve capabilities’. ‘valve expectations’ denote the goods

and conditions of life to which individuals believe they are rightfully entitled;

and ‘value capabilities’ refers to the goods and conditions of life they think

they are capable of attaining. Gurr argues that fraternalistic forms of RD

involving reference group comparisons should be thought of as special

cases of egoistic RD (see, for example, Gurr, 1970, p.105). Indeed, his

major work, why men rebel (1970), has no index entry to fraternalistic RD.

Though he focuses on individualistic processes, Gurr obfuscates the

distinction between individual land group. Witness the easy shifts from

discussing individual expectations to discussing group phenomena:

Deprivation is relevant to the disposition to collective violence to the extent

that many people discontented about the same things. Unexpected

personal deprivations such as failure to obtain an expected promotion or

the infidelity of a spouse ordinarily affect few people at any given time and

are therefore narrow in scope. Events and patterns of conditions like the

suppression of a political party, a drastic inflation, or the decline of a

group’s status relative to its reference group are likely to precipitate feelings

of RD among whole groups or categories of people (Gurr,1970, p.29).

Group’s status relative to its reference group) and cities Runciman in the

next paragraph, the egoistic- fraternalistic distinction eludes him.

Crosby’s model (1976,1982; Cook et al., 1977) is a significant attempt at a

theoretical integration of the relationships between RD, the precipitant

preconditions and behavioural outcomes. She itemizes five necessary and

sufficient preconditions that defines a person as in a state of RD: the

person sees others possess a desirable X; feels entitled to X; thinks it

feasible to attain X; and does not blame him/herself for not having X. if all

five preconditions are not met, one of several different emotions results-

disappointment, indignation, or jealousy.

After an extensive review of the literature, Crosby (1976) surmises that

three variables mediate the effects of RD- the person’s direction of blame

for not having X (to self or society), level of personal control, and actual

opportunities for effecting change.

Level of measurement. The different conceptualizations of RD operate at

various levels on the spectrum between individual and group, although all

are rooted in individual perceptions. Hence, the different conceptualizations

must be operationalized at the appropriate levels. Egoistic versions of RD

must measure DR at the level of the individual’s perceptions of relative

standing qua individual. Fraternalistic versions must measure perception of

group standing.

Cognitive and affective components. All conceptualizations of RD treat it as

a cognitive variable. All theorists assume RD to be a state arrived at

through a conscious, rational judgment of the relative positions of self or

self’s group and some referent other on some evaluate dimension(s).

Given satisfactory progress with these issues, the theory of RD can

contribute to the social psychology of intergroup processes in general and

to Tajfel’s CIC theory in particular.

The Relative Deprivation Theory simply put forward as depriving person,

group of some desirable thing relative to their own past which the central

idea at relative deprivation theory, linking this to the crisis in Niger Delta. It

can be obtain that the Niger-delta’s have been deprive of certain social

amenities like good road, well and furnished health care (hospital),

electricity, standard school etc. despite the million dollar derivable from the

oil in Niger Delta the non challant attitude of the multi-national oil company

to the welfare of Niger-delta indigenes in oil exploration activities, the reality

is that the community remains economically and socially backward.

Development, employment, availability of social amenities supposed to be

the position of Niger delta region but they have been relatively deprived

from their rights which make them to be aggressive and form all sought of

group e.g. amnesty international, Niger-delta militancy, Asawana group,

Egbekure group among others. Deprivation is relevant in the disposition of

collective violence in the Niger-delta region to the extent people feel

discontented about the same things. Unexpected personal deprivation such

as failure to achieve expected promotion and much more as stated above.


Marx never gave theory of stratification; he gave a theory of social class on

the basis of which we derive stratification or inequality in society. Marxian

perspective provides a radical alternative to functionalist view of the nature

of social stratification. According to Marxian perspective, systems of

stratification derive from the relationships of the social groups to the forces

of production. In all the stratified societies, there are two major social

groups: a ruling class and a subject class.

The power of the ruling class derives from its ownership and control of the

forces of production. The ruling class exploits and oppresses the subject

class. As a result there is a basic conflict of interest between the two

classes. Marx focuses on social strata rather than social inequality in


Marx used the term “class” to refer to the main stratas in all stratification

system. A class is a social group whose members share the same

relationship to the forces of production. The subject class is made up of the

majority of the population whereas; the ruling class forms a minority. The

relationship between the major social classes is one of mutual dependence

and conflict. However, the mutual dependency of the two classes is not a

relationship of equal or symmetrical reciprocity. Instead it is a relationship

of exploiter and exploited, oppressor and oppressed. Marx specified a

number of variables to explain how different classes develop conflict

among themselves.

1) Conflict over economic rewards between the classes.

2) Physical concentration of masses of people.

3) Easy communication among the people in the same class position.

4) Development of solidarity.(class consciousness)

5) Political organization

6) Revolution

Acc to Marx, social stratification divides society into two classes and the

unequal distribution of wealth leads to discontent and ultimately to

revolution in the society.

1) Societies are not simply reflections of economic systems.

2) There are interest groups in societies that are unrelated to social


3) Those who possess power in capitalist society are not always those

with the highest income or the owners of the most property.

4) Conflict in a large modern society is rarely bipolarized.

5) Social conflict does not always lead to structural social change.

Due to the central idea of Marxian perspective the crisis in the Niger-delta

as the result of social class on the basis of which we drive stratification or

inequality in the society. According to the Marxian perspective, system of

stratification derived from the relationship of social group to force of

production in all societies, there are two major social groups (ruling and

subject class) where we have center of the center (c c), periphery of the

center (p c), center of the periphery (c p) and the periphery of the periphery

(p p). The ruling class exploits and oppresses the subject class as a result

there is a basic conflict of interest between the two classes. However, the

mutual dependency of the two classes is not a relationship of equal or

symmetrical reciprocity instead it is a relationship of exploiter and the

exploited. The Niger-delta receives thirteen percent of revenue sharing

formula in the country to develop their region ( NDDC) rather the elite take

this money and share within themselves at the expense of the masses,

according to prof. ( IBABA S. IBABA) that blood is thicker than water but

water washes away blood. The crisis in Niger-delta according to the central

idea of the Marxian theory is caused by the elite of the region which made

them to fight one another because everyone in the region wants to have

their own share of the national cake not minding consequences.

Conclusively the central ideal of frustration aggressive theory, relative

deprivation theory and Marxian conflict theory contributed in different ways

to the causes and crises of all sought of social violence in the region, it has

led to overt or covert aggression, physical or verbal aggression.


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