Aggressive Behavior: Paper Example

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1628 Words
Date:  2022-07-18


The terms aggression, anger, and hostility are often used interchangeably but do not necessarily mean the same. According to Warburton and Anderson (2015), aggression refers to any behavior of a living organism indented to harm other organisms which are often motivated to avoid the aggression. Unlike hostility and anger which result in negative consequences, aggression can in some cases result in positive outcomes (Rizza, Veronese, & Fontana 2014). The positive repercussions often accrue to the aggressor, and negative consequences accrue to the victims. The past research on aggression was focused on establishing its causal environmental and biological factors. These factors have profound effects on psychosocial neurocognitive processes that trigger aggression.

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Recent studies have demonstrated that calorie restriction (CR) and CR odor play significant roles in influencing the level of aggression and dominance (Rizza, Veronese, & Fontana 2014). Dominance and aggressive behaviors are fundamental functions of social interaction in mammals. This paper thoroughly explores the effects of CR and CR odor on aggression and dominance in rodents which translates the behavior and social interactions of other mammals.


This literature review aims to find out the effects of calorie restriction (CR) and CR odor on aggression and dominance that will influence social interaction.


H0: The calorie restriction group will portray an evident difference in dominant and aggressive behaviors specifically when the there is a comparison with the control group rats.

H1: The Calorie Restriction-Odor group will end up demonstrating an evident difference that is in line with aggressive and dominant behaviors when it is compared to the control-odor exposed rats.

H3: CR- odor group, will demonstrate shorter latency and great frequency dominant and aggressive behaviors when weighed with the control odor exposed rats

H4: The calorie restriction group will show a shorter latency of dominant and aggressive behaviors when compared to the control free-fed rats.


The term aggressive behaviour is a frequently used and sometimes misunderstood for hostility, anger or competitiveness (Wardburton and Anderson, 2015). Warburton and Anderson (2015) explain aggressive behaviour as any behaviour intended to cause harm to another who is motivated to avoid harm. Aggression has been viewed as having both negative and positive aspects. Aggression has been viewed as positive; displaying highly functional levels of social competence and the ability to control ones environment, and is seen negatively as harming others (Koolhass, et al., 2013). Aggression is seen to be displayed in different forms; verbally, passively and physically, however the purposed study will focus on physically harming another; hitting, fighting (Warburton &Anderson, 2015). Aggressive behaviour research in the past has looked into explanations for aggressive behaviour through underlying biological factors, environmental risk factors/triggers, neurocognitive and psychological process (Warburton &Anderson, 2015).

Dominance is a behaviour that is commonly associated with aggressive behaviour, whereby a human or animal seeks to overpower another (Kaufmann, 1983). Within an evolutionary setting, those with greater access to resources are those that are more dominant when resources are in short supply (Kaufmann, 1983). Kaufmann (1983) explains territoriality as displaying dominance and aggressive behaviour in defending ones environment or resources. A common test that uses this aspect of territoriality to examine aggression and dominance is the Resident/Intruder paradigm (Koolhass, et al., 2013). This paradigm is utilised to measure aggression and social dominant behaviour in rats after they have developed a sense of territory of their environment, an intruder rat will be placed at the opposite end of the cage and behaviours will be recorded (Koolhass, et al., 2013).

Diet has been identified as a key contributing factor in improving health and life expectancy (Rizza, Veronese & Fontana, 2014). Not only may CR improve health and life expectancy, but there has been a range of research examining the effects of CR on behaviour. For instance, one study found that moderate (25%) and severe (50%) CR can reduce anxiety-like behaviours (Levay et al., 2007). Another study found significant difference in social behaviours in male rats in CR group; CR rats at 75% and 50% calorie restricted diets to control rats (Govic, Levay, Kent & Paolini, 2009). This study found that both 75% and 50% CR rats displayed faster initiation and duration of social activities as well as an increase in dominant behaviour (Govic, et al., 2009). This study also found that CR 75% group showed less nonsocial (self-grooming) behaviour and greater social interaction (walkovers) when compared to other groups (Govic, et al., 2009). It was also found that the 50% CR group displayed more exploratory behaviour in comparison to all other groups (Govic, et al., 2009).

Previous studies on CR have examined social behaviour from rats who have actually received CR, these studies have overlooked the importance and affect that environmental odours, such as pheromones have on social behaviour. Pheromones are airborne chemicals which assist communication between species; found in urine, faces, sweat, or blood odours that have been identified to have effects on the recipient of the odours, biologically and behaviourally (Abbott et al, 2009). It has been found in previous research that a social transfer can occur when these pheromones are smelt by others. A study conducted on mice found that when naive mice were exposed to the odours of mice that were in pain, these control mice actually demonstrated the same pain experience behaviours as those actually experiencing the pain directly (Smith, Hostetler, Heinricher and Ryabinin, 2016). Furthermore, it appears that CR odours may also influence behaviour of non-CR animals. The effects of olfactory cues was also found to alter anxiety like behaviours from exposure to odours of CR rats who displayed similar results in comparison to their control group counterparts (Abbott et al, 2009).

In society we are constantly searching for more advanced ways of being able to better our health and life expectancy, but this has mostly focused on physiological changes. Previous research lacked a focus on aggressive behaviour mainly focusing on anxiety like behaviour reduction and social behaviour (Abbott et al., 2009; Govic, et al., 2009). As previous research has found there has been changes in behaviour due to CR as well as CR odours it can be expected that other behavioural changes may be observed (Abbott et al., 2009; Govic, et al., 2009). The proposed study seeks to explain the effect CR and olfaction of CR odours has on behaviour; social, non-social, aggressive and dominant behaviour. The findings from the study could lead to novel treatment for aggressive and dominant behaviour that has problematic effects on one's environment. There are numerous treatment regimens for addressing management of aggressive behaviour, but none have linked to diet or odours as a contributing factor. The findings may also lead to further development of olfaction studies in weight loss and health through odours of CR from conspecifics.

Literature Review

Males rats portray to be affected by aggressive behavior due to anxiety, stress and altered catecholamine content in their brain (Patki, Atrooz, Alkadhi, Solanki & Salim, 2015). According to Koolhaas et al. (2013), all species demonstrate aggressive behaviors which are the functional forms of social communication. This form of communication characterized by physical conflicts against members of the same species is enacted to overpower and control others. The social communication behavior is passed to offspring and influences a wide range of their phenotypic outcomes throughout the animal kingdom (Koolhaas et al., 2013). Experimental and epidemiological data show that diets play essential roles in determining the level of aggression in all species (Govic, Penman, Tammer, & Paolini, 2016).

The influences of calorie restriction (CR) on aggression is well established and documented. It increases lifespan, reduces age-related disorders and boosts the immune system in all species (Levay, Tammer, Penman, Kent, & Paolini, 2010). In human, a well-controlled CR dose with adequate nutrients leads to positive adaptations including reduction of risks of developing diabetes type 2, cancer and cardiovascular diseases (Rizza, Veronese, & Fontana, 2014). However, doses of CR administered and the quality of the diet has significant effects on these positive outcomes.

The underlying effects of CR on the behavior of organisms involve the alteration of neuroendocrine. A little modification can result in significant behavioral changes (Levay, Tamme, Penman, Kent & Paolini, 2010). In a research carried out on rats, subjection to different CR resulted in different hormonal concentrations. The three-week exercise demonstrated that a lower dosage of CR resulted in higher aggression and social interaction. The hormones are responsible for various behaviors shown by each group. The multidimensional nature of aggression is determined by some hormones when at optimum levels. From the studies conducted on human subjects, the same behavioral change was demonstrated. The extensive literature points out that, CR coupled with a high-quality diet leads to more significant effects. From this fact, there is a need to understand the underlying interaction and combination that optimally result in a positive outcome.

Despite the positive effects of aggression, it can also have negative implications to both the victim and the aggressor. In controlled research, physical aggression has been controlled through effective mechanisms that are aimed to reduce the level of harm imposed by the aggressor. These mechanisms include threatening techniques that include plain infliction, ritualization, submission, taboos and appeasement (Koolhaas et al., 2013). Since aggression behavior goes beyond physical attack leading to bodily injury, the psychological injury is also incorporated and leads to considerable harm to the victim. Therefore, the stated control mechanisms may not be effective in tackling all forms of aggressive behavior.

In response to the aggressor behavior, the victims may perform defensive aggression (Koolhaas et al., 2013). This response behavior is for inhibitory control and self-protection from the injurious individual. From the rat experiment, the result or defensive and offensive responses were more evident in resident-intruder interaction. From the observations, the frequency of offensive (resident) behavior against the defensive (intruder) progressively reduces with time (Koolhaas et al., 2013). By consistently using the same rodent as an intruder result sends the animal into chronic stress.

In a study carried out by Abbott, et al. (2009), three grouped were given different doses of CR for three weeks. The control group was fed wit...

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