Definition of aggression
Perhaps, no form of behavior attracts such close attention as aggression. Despite the fact that many prominent physiologists and researchers of animal behavior, such as K. Lorentz, L. V. Krushinsky, P. Leihausen and others, engaged in the description of its forms and elucidation of the mechanism, exhaustive definitions of aggression were never found. Usually aggressive behavior is seen as a component of agonistic behavior, which is understood as a complex set of actions observed during conflicts between individuals of the same species and including mutual threats, attacks on the opponent, escape from he, the persecution and the demonstration of submission.
The definition of aggression as the actions of an animal addressed to another individual and leading to its intimidation, suppression or inflicting physical injuries can be considered the most correct one. In fact, aggression is a kind of motivation that is innate, enriched and transformed throughout the life of the animal. It can serve various needs and is closely related to the emotional sphere of the animal. The complexity of the analysis of aggression is that the reflex behavioral acts serving it can enter into other biological forms of behavior. For example, a bite as a reflex behavioral act can be part of food-producing, playful or defensive behavior. Thus, aggression can be considered as a nonspecific, in some cases auxiliary, motivation that serves the needs of the organism in combination with specific motivations that satisfy a specific need. Aggression meets the needs of the body through physical or mental suppression of other individuals or physical removal of obstacles.
A very important component of aggression is that the animal, before attacking an opponent, warns him about it. The warning is expressed in the form of a variety of ritual poses, sounds and actions (for details, see Chapter 11).
Classification of aggression types
When analyzing the spectrum of possible aggressive motivations, it can be seen that they can be combined into several groups that are fundamentally different in the sphere of manifestation and objects of influence. Classifications of forms of aggression, cited by different authors, may differ slightly in details. The most common types of aggression are intraspecific , territorial , interspecies.
As its name suggests, aggression of this type is aimed primarily at representatives of its species. You can select the following types:
1) hierarchical aggression: the aggression that individual individuals show in order to maintain or enhance their social status, having achieved submission to another animal. It can occur both between individuals of one and different sexes. This is a very important type of aggression to maintain stability in animal communities. Aggressive actions can be blocked by demonstrations of submission:
2) Sexual aggression manifests itself between males and between females. The main reason for the manifestation of such aggression is to get rid of the sexual competitor, having achieved obedience or flight of the opponent. This type of aggression is largely associated with hierarchical aggression. In males, it is mostly ritualized and often manifests itself in the form of mating tournaments. The aggression shown by dominant males in relation to females and calves usually has an educational character and a demonstrative form. In females, this aggression is more severe, because it is aimed at protecting the existing or future offspring. In some cases, agression can end with the death of one of the rivals. For the same reason, females often attack other people's cubs. Aggression in females is ritual in the education of their young and when flirting with males during mating games.
Sexual and hierarchical aggression is usually manifested in the context of sociopsychic behavior. The objects of this aggression are the other members of the group. Aggression of this type is always directed at the social partner, has a largely ritualized character and often ceases after one of them takes the posture of submission or leaves. Positions of domination and subordination are worked out when communicating with other individuals during ontogenesis. Animals grown up in isolation often fail to adequately respond to ritual movements of others and show excessive aggression.
This type of aggression includes the protection of their own cubs, which is very harsh and can be aimed at representatives of their own and other species, regardless of gender. Therefore, it can be considered in two aspects: both as an intra-species and as an inter-species one.
This type includes the protection of an individual site, a group or family territory. The degree of its manifestation depends on the depth of the enemy's invasion of the animal's personal territory. Territorial aggression is directed outwards, the object of such aggression can be not only individuals of the same species, but also representatives of other species, as well as in a particular situation, any moving objects that violate the boundaries of high-value areas of the territory. So, when approaching the place of daylight or lair, not only a representative of his species, but also a person, and a large domestic animal, and even a tractor or a car, can be attacked. Territorial aggression is accompanied by ritual demonstrations, can be reduced by demonstrations of subordination, but is blocked only by the escapee of a violator from the protected territory. The size of this zone depends on many factors. So, for example, one dog considers its kennel a personal area, the other is a fenced site on which this kennel is located, and the third - the entire street on which the site is located. Some dogs in the protection of their territory actively attack, inflicting bites, others only bark the stranger, the third just drive the stranger, and the fourth do not show any aggression at all.
Physiological mechanism of territorial aggression
The advantages of "ownership" a certain territory in the form of a habitat is not guaranteed by the mechanisms of individual attachment of animals to this territory. To realize all the biological benefits of this type of population structure, specific population mechanisms must exist that determine the necessary degree of diffusion in the distribution of individuals and prevent the possibility of excessive congestion and exacerbation of intraspecific competition. In general, such mechanisms can be called forms of "individualization" territory, they are manifested in the form of regular relationships between individual individuals that make up the population.
The simplest form of such relationships is expressed in the active protection of individual territory and the physical expulsion of other individuals of its kind from it. Aggressive behavior associated with site protection is known in many systematic groups of animals, including invertebrates. The most interesting from the biological point of view is that the winner in territorial battles is not a larger and stronger individual, but, as a rule, the owner of this site. At the same time, the alien goes to flight, persecuted by the owner of the site to the borders of his territory, after which the persecution ceases.
The victory of the site owner is not accidental, but quite natural phenomenon. The physiological mechanism of this phenomenon lies in the fact that an animal that has fallen into a stranger's unknown territory is dominated by an orientation reaction-a powerful reflex that suppresses (at least temporarily) other forms of behavior and easily passes into a passive-defensive reaction. The owner of the site, on the other hand, is dominated by innate aggressiveness towards individuals of his species, stably supported by a well-known system of landmarks within the boundaries of the protected area. Various setting higher nervous activity and decides the outcome of the meeting.
In fact, every aggressive reaction is accompanied by the release of adrenaline into the blood, and sometimes arises precisely against the background of its emissions. In cases when it comes to sociopolitical aggression, its manifestation is seriously influenced by sex hormones, in particular testosterone supplementing the effect of adrenaline.
Adrenaline-independent aggression is not always accompanied by ritual demonstrations. This category includes, for example, aggression caused by fear, which K. Lorenz calls a critical reaction. In this version, aggressive motivation ensures satisfaction of the need for self-preservation. The attack becomes inevitable precisely because the animal is afraid: the critical distance of rapprochement is broken, the escape is impossible physically or disadvantageously as a strategy. Aggression in this case, the stronger, the stronger the fear.
The so-called unmotivated aggression , well-known in dogs of a number of breeds, is also hormonally conditioned. It is expressed in the fact that a dog, just peace-loving, suddenly begins to bite the others and its owner in the first place. Outbreaks of this aggression occur at the time of excitement, completely unrelated to the conflict situation, for example, in a game or in a meeting with a well-known person.
It is believed that unmotivated aggression is associated with spontaneous emissions of adrenaline, contributing to a sharp irradiation of excitation. The punishment of a dog during the manifestation of such aggression is absolutely inconclusive. Unmotivated aggression is hereditarily caused and at the moment presents a serious problem for a number of breeds, primarily for English cocks. The only measure that prevents its spread is a rigid culling of breeding of such dogs.
If it is impossible to come into direct contact with a real rival, the animal can redirect aggression to surrounding objects or weaker individuals.
This behavior is often demonstrated by young males, who do not have enough confidence in their forces to impose a conflict on a high-ranking animal. In such a situation, they attack some safer object. For example, wolves and dogs often have scenes when an adult male gently bites a bone calmly and tastefully, and his young rival sternly growls angrily, bites his stick violently, digs up the ground, in a word, leads a "fight with the shadow" . Such a strategy is undoubtedly advantageous, because, on the one hand, it gives an outlet to excitement, and on the other hand it allows it to be poured out in safe forms.
With redirected aggression, one often has to face a person. Everyone is familiar with situations where a person, for example, received a charge of negative influences, but on his way home from work, waited a long time for transportation, he was pushed many times on the bus, then he was doused by a rider who was passing by, and so on. In an irritated state, being hungry and tired, he comes home and disrupts his annoyance at the household.
It can manifest itself in relation to animals of other species in a variety of situations. This is, above all, aggression on the alien's invasion of the personal territory of this individual. In this case, this is actually a manifestation of territorial aggression, about which we wrote above.
Aggression of the predator on the victim
A number of authors deduce hunting behavior beyond the scope of aggression and treats it only as a food-producing one, since there are no demonstrations in its manifestation. Indirect confirmation of this is the fact that potential victims often do not feel fear of predators at all. So, in the African savannah you can observe a peaceful picture, when antelopes and zebras graze literally next to the clan of well-fed lions. Their behavior changes only when the lions are going hunting.
Consider another type of aggression, closely related to hunting behavior and aggression to the hindrance - aggression to the appearance of a competitor , often closely related. This form of aggression is well described for wolves who destroy foxes and raccoon dogs on their territory and rarely use them for food. According to the descriptions of the observers, the victim is hunted down and killed, and then thrown.
The role of aggression in animal relationships
Aggression plays a huge role in the social relations of animals. Its biological significance is widely discussed by scientists. K. Lorenz considered it a leading factor determining the formation of communities. He pointed out that in an individualized community, friendly relations between its individual members are found only in animals with highly developed aggression and that the degree of group ties between animals is the stronger the more aggressive the intraspecies relations.
L. V. Krushinsky questioned a number of generalizations of K. Lorenz, arguing that in animals with highly developed psyche the diversity of relations in communities, and thus the evolutionary processes, is undoubtedly influenced by rational activity, mutual assistance and cooperation between individuals.
We will come back to the subject of aggression again, speaking about the social and sexual behavior of animals.
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