Survival on this planet, inherently involves violence and so do human instincts for establishing social hierarchies (reference: Social dominance theory). Virtually any human being faces violence (at least) at some stage of their life.

Therefore we can state that aggression always finds its place in human psyche. While all of us possess some aggression we do express it in different manners. Some of us repress it, others let it explode uncontrollably, still others try to direct it at the source of violence against them, etc.


Are you acquainted with any research or scientific speculations what happens when a person is put in (the unnatural) circumstances of so low levels of violence in their life, that we could assume that violence stimuli are actually absent?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm afraid that asking for the opinion of professionals is still asking for opinion - see for example these meta posts 1 2 3. Also, just asking if anything happens in a hypothetical scenario is way too broad. There is for example, a large Jain community and some Budhhist monks who live in strict non-violence, and ... nothing happens to them; they are normal people. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Nov 28 at 5:27
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    $\begingroup$ I think Arnon is right here; the question needs much more focus; the lead on the Buddhist Monks is a good way to start your research. Then the question could evolve into something like 'Buddhist monks live in the absence of violence, this and that paper says they respond differently to aggression, how does this translate into brain activity?' or something along those lines. Then the question has focus and based on evidence. As of now it is too broad and opinion based. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Nov 29 at 15:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Arnon perhaps that constitutes an answer? Questions with limited research can just link to resources to get the OP started imho. $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    8 hours ago
  • $\begingroup$ @ArnonWeinberg with ref. to your comment about Buddhist monks not suffering from violence, there have been cases in history where Buddhist monks have suffered some of the most horrific violence. Look at the history of Tibet for example. I grant you that they shun violence but they are not immune. $\endgroup$ 6 hours ago

This may be difficult (close to impossible) in the social sciences to create an experiment that isolates one group so that that they are not exposed to violence for a long period of time (more than a few days). But, an important question. For example, its common for research in this area to examine the influence of community violence on externalizing behavior (aggression, etc.), as a result, participants report on exposure to violence in a natural setting. Moreover, there are no experimental manipulations that control the amount of violence participants are exposed to.

However, there is research on exposure to violent media, such as on television and video games, that applies an experimental design to compare a no/low violence exposure group to a violence exposure group. In this way, its common for this research to use an intervention to decrease the amount of media use (for a given period of time), and common to measure the immediate impact of violent media across experiment conditions, (rather than eliminate violence over a long period of time). Again, lower externalizing problems (i.e. aggression) are commonly reported as a result of reducing exposure to violent stimuli (the media).

Furthermore, Anderson's et al. (2010) meta-analysis on the effects of violent video games on aggression, prosocial behavior, and empathy provides strong evidence

that exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect and for decreased empathy and prosocial behavior

Moreover, no significant differences by culture or sex we're shown.

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    $\begingroup$ Come to think of it now, people stranded on desolate islands or living in isolation under any other circumstance are not exposed to violence, because they are simply not exposed to other people. Another suggestion, is the community of scientists in the South pole - they are hardly exposed to violence other than micro-violence in the daily relations between them. $\endgroup$
    – drabsv
    Nov 25 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ similar to what you are saying, there may be research comparing those living detached from society (such as monks, ascetics, or simply living off the land away from others) to those that are not, focusing on the relationship between no exposure to violence and outcomes like aggression. But, unlike your initial question, these aren't "un-natural" circumstances (experimental design), rather data is collected from a natural setting $\endgroup$ Nov 25 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @studentstephan these aren't "un-natural" circumstances (experimental design) - was the OP looking for experiment studies? The question seemed open to studies on people you mentioned in your comment and with those at polar research facilities. Do you know of such research which you could add to your answer? $\endgroup$ 6 hours ago

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