zoology biology benno meyer rochow science blog violence Florian Nock

The Philosopher Knew it All Along

But was the philosopher right?

There was a time when behavioural scientists educated or based in Europe and America could get into heated arguments over the question of the biological nature and origin of aggression in humans (and animals as well). Was aggression learned or was it innate? It can be shown that mice as well as dog puppies will become fighters when the keeper allows them to always win in an encounter. Losses dampen their aggression and diminish their confidence that they would win a battle. Daily stroking, patting and cuddling was shown to have a similar effect on aggression in these (and by inference) other species. Finally, lifting aggressive puppies frequently off the ground also makes them become more docile (or perhaps timid?).