An experimental study of social conflict

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McGinnis, Robert C.
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Thesis (M.A.)
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Reduction of Social Conflict by Increasing Affiliation-Need. The study of social conflict would be advanced if more infrahuman subjects could be used to study the effects of various factors which are the determinants of certain social problems. The problem in this study is to find what social needs might operate within animal societies which could be manipulated so that their effect on the conflict situation can be determined. It will be postulated that the roots of man's higher sentiments can be discovered at lower animal levels and that these are subject to experimental study. Affiliation-need will be postulated as an important factor in man's willingness to forego aggressive reactions in a social-frustration situation, since aggressing in these circumstances would limit the satisfaction of this affiliation need. The theory that frustration leads to aggression would need to be modified to account for the inhibition to aggression when other needs would be frustrated thereby. This would lead one to believe that greater social needs must be developed if the many social problems steaming from aggressive behavior are to be solved.This study will attempt to induce something similar to such a psycho-social need in rats and to see if the induced factors have an effect which can be measured in a social-conflict situation. The problem then is to create a social-problem in the rat laboratory and to induce acme form of social need that can be operationalized. Then it can be shown whether or not this need could modify the reaction of subjects in an experimentally induced conflict-situation. Many of the most serious social problems today seem to be without a good solution. More work needs to be done in the entire area of frustration and aggression. The positive and negative incentives to aggressions need to be better understood before this hypothesis can be of much value for human science. If more could be known about the factors which account for conflict-resolution hen it does occur; then psychology would have made a great contribution to mankind.