frustration-aggression hypothesis mentioned in our discussion of drive theories
of aggression (Dollard et al., 1939). In its original form, this hypothesis made two sweeping
assertions: (1) Frustration always leads to some form of aggression and (2) aggression
always stems from frustration. In short, the theory held that frustrated people always
engage in some type of aggression and that all acts of aggression, in turn, result from
frustration. Bold statements like these are appealing, but it does not mean that they
are necessarily accurate. In fact, existing evidence suggests that both portions of the
frustration-aggression hypothesis assign far too much importance to frustration as a
determinant of human aggression. When frustrated, individuals do not always respond
with aggression. On the contrary, they show many different reactions, ranging from
sadness, despair, and depression on the one hand, to direct attempts to overcome the
source of their frustration on the other. In short, aggression is definitely not an automatic
response to frustration.
it is equally clear that not all aggression stems from frustration. As we have
already noted, people aggress for many different reasons and in response to many different
factors. Why, for instance, did Jessica Logan’s classmates heap abuse on her after her
boyfriend posted nude photos of her on the Internet? Were they frustrated in any way?
Was Jessica the cause of such feelings? Probably not. Many factors other than frustration
no doubt played a role.