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Introduction:

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.

Question:

a) Is there any research 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?

b) If there's no research done, what would you expect to happen (based on professional experience or your scientific reasoning) - e.g. having an individual totally incapable of aggressive behaviour that they cannot defend themselves under life-threatening circumstances or just the contrary - an individual becoming violent out of no reason, or something else?

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  • $\begingroup$ I think this question is opinion-based, and should be closed. It is soliciting opinion by asking what would one expect to happen in the absence of evidence. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Nov 25 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ The question is asking what would happen in the absence of violent stimuli, not evidence $\endgroup$ Nov 25 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ @studentstephan It literally says: "If there's no research ..." $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Nov 26 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ What one expects to happen in the absence of evidence does not necessarily equal to opinion. Given the professional audience in this community, I am asking for what one expects based on their individual professional experience, as well as their scientific reasoning. $\endgroup$
    – drabsv
    Nov 26 at 22:08
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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
    2 days ago
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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

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