Education, genes, hormones: What young men are so aggressive

Violent Aggression is by far the largest part of men. The usual Suspects, if there is an explanation for the male dominance in these crimes, are the genes of cultural imprinting, and the “aggression hormone,” testosterone. However, the situation is not so unambiguous as it seems at first glance. FOCUS Online spoke with a scientist who deals with the phenomenon of Aggression.

Men are the gewälttätigere sex, that’s for sure. Crime statistics clearly show:

  • Men hold 80 percent of all acts of violence,
  • every second to third day in Germany, a woman dies by the hands of Partners or Expartners, such as the BKA, in a recent statistics announced Recently,
  • overall, domestic violence is increasing, 82 percent of the victims are women threatened by man, abused or stalked.
  • 95 percent of prison inmates are male, and the vast majority in the case of serial killers

Also in the case of acts of violence by Hooligans run amok and attack the perpetrators are male. Men, especially young men are under suspicion: “to put it Crudely, the most Dangerous, what the human Evolution is told by young men and hordes. Such a testosterone-driven groups can Evil do“, ranted the Baden-württemberg Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann after a group rape in Freiburg.

Testosterone can make you aggressive…

It is actually the male sex hormone that makes men so aggressive? Evidence suggests that especially young men are often strikingly aggressive, have known to have a high level of testosterone. “Meta-analyses, however, show only a rather weak correlation between testosterone and aggressiveness,” Ute clear Habel, senior psychologist at the clinic for psychiatry, psychotherapy and psychosomatics at University hospital Aachen. The scientist has been working for years with the neurobiological background of emotions, including Aggression. In a current study, she investigated with her Team, the influence of testosterone on the behavior of men.

The subjects received a Testosterongel for Application to the skin. This showed that in the game against a supposed opponent of the subjects were under the influence of the additional (exogenous) testosterone, more provocative and aggressive responded. “This is a note, however, it came at the same time to interaction with genetic factors related to Aggression, which shows that the Whole thing is complicated,” reports the scientist. Aggression, then, can be slowed down to biological and genetic make-up by testosterone.

but the man fair play to stimulate

Testosterone may, but need not make aggressive, on the contrary. The male hormone has the ability to a lot of other effects to reduce about “fear, to promote competition, strategic behavior, and the reward trigger, as various studies show,” Ute Habel. Also in connection with the Fairness it seems to play a role.

To reduce testosterone solely on its function as a sex hormone, which can fuel aggression, that is not the case. It makes a man a man, but not an unpredictable “aggression volcano”.

Aggression genes influence behavior

A much more important role in the development of Aggression genetic factors play. There are several genes have an influence on Aggression. Known to have a certain gene variant, a variant of the monoamine oxidase-A (MAOA) gene, which has been repeatedly associated with Aggression in particular. MAOA is important for the metabolism of Serotonin and dopamine, is responsible. In the case of a particular MAOA allele, the activity of the enzyme is low, it is more Serotonin and dopamine is available. Both transmitters are also involved in Aggression.

About a third (to 40 percent) of all men with this genotype, of how all the genes hereditary.

Men with this genotype, therefore, but usually not aggressive. “Studies have shown that it comes to aggressiveness, especially if at the same time bad environmental experiences, such as violence and Trauma, especially in early Childhood,” Ute clear Habel. These early childhood experiences of violence in combination with the risk genotype to be an important predictor in men for later aggressiveness.

However, as testosterone is not in any case aggressive, also has the MAOA genotype is not one-sided negative. The researcher has been involved in a further study, being under the influence of testosterone the risk behavior was tested. “It showed that the subjects with the genotypes, strategic and a bit more successful when you Perform a risky task,” she says, summing up.

Trauma, Frustration and provocation to encourage Aggression

The MAOA variant is able to encourage additional external factors of aggressiveness. The are, as already mentioned, about the experience of violence in Childhood. In a study of 80 perpetrators met the scientist could determine, for example, that most of them had traumatic childhood experiences.

Other factors that can trigger Aggression are often in the Situation:

  • The feeling of failure, of inability and Frustration
  • Provocations
  • Competition
  • Exclusion
  • Stress
  • Positive experiences with Aggression – so anyone who has experienced that his own aggressive behavior led to success, is set in the future, more on this tactic.

Problem boys from macho cultures

In addition to the external influences, a culture of male dominance and education are perhaps the embossing,. In these countries, the Mach is pronounced, the wife is discriminated against. The UN investigation, “Understanding Masculinities” in the middle East and North Africa, for example, has shown that more than half of the men have been harassed on the street, a woman in Germany is “only” one out of every five. Further results of the UN study on men to determine 90 percent on the personal freedoms of their women.

For boys, growing up under these conditions, dominance and Aggression to women is quite normal because it is accepted. Nevertheless, this does not mean that all men from Macho cultures are aggressive, there are a lot of counter-examples.

Aggressive men are also the product of Evolution

When it comes to a model of male Aggression that is often used in the development of humanity – with men as aggressive hunters and women as the peaceful collectors and fire guardians. “Always when we find gender differences, we can’t explain ourselves properly, we rely on the Evolution,” says the researcher. But we have two different sexes, which are equipped with different power and size, for a specific purpose and can also be negative, with the violence of the Stronger against (the) Weaker.

Women are more aggressive against men

There are so many possible reasons for this, that men notice it much more often due to violent Aggression and the law, mostly against women. But women are always the victims of Aggression? Statistics show a further development. The number of male victims of partnership violence has been increasing since 2013, as the criminologist illustrates data for the year 2017.

However, women, especially younger women, are increasingly aggressive, therefore, a sort of emancipation of Aggression. Cause of, among other things, the change of gender roles.

However, it is still a fraction compared to that of men, performed acts of violence. In General, female Aggression is expressed differently: women, backbiting, nagging, controlling, screaming.

Women tend to but, in principle, more likely to develop Depression, borderline disorder, or to show self-aggression, which is expressed in self-injury or suicide.

Conclusion: In the development of Aggression come many complex factors. The male Aggression, like any behavior, a biological page, which is directed to, among other things, of neurotransmitters in the brain, hormones and genes. Ute Habel: “these are genetic influences, too much testosterone, or a brain injury, such as in the Area for control is important.” In the process, even the smallest congenital Changes can have an impact for a lifetime.

The other important component of the Situation, example, the of provocation is. Then, an otherwise hardly aggressive person with violence can respond. “One speaks in this case of reactive Aggression, in contrast to instrumental forms of Aggression, which have a self – purpose, for example, be used to get something or to achieve a goal”, explains the psychologist in more detail.

Aggression research is only at the beginning

In addition to the experience, but also personality traits, which are in turn influenced by the biology – and so the circle closes again. “All of that plays different from person to person, the factors are differently weighted,” says the researcher. This richness also makes it so difficult, Aggression, and their origin is to be classified. We need a lot of research in order to understand such a complex phenomenon.