The frustration-aggression hypothesis has been proposed to explain human aggressive behaviors, maintaining that aggression is caused by frustration (Bird and Cripe, 1986; Gill, 1986; Husman and Silva, 1984). In this view, frustration occurs due to the blocking of one's efforts to achieve goals.
Critics of the frustration-aggression hypothesis have questioned whether all frustration causes aggression. Although frustration sometimes leads to aggressive behavior, a direct casual relationship between frustration and aggression cannot always be claimed (Nucci and Young-Shim, 2005).
The original form of the frustration-aggression hypothesis by Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, and Sears (1939) stated that: (1) all acts of aggression are the result of previous frustration; (2) all frustration leads to aggression. But some frustrations do not yield aggression, and some aggression is not the result of a prior frustration. Indeed, many contemporary scholars believe that if a frustrating event is fully justified, the frustrated person would show no residual inclination to aggress. However, Berkowitz (1989) claimed that even fully justified frustration can produce aggressive tendencies. This prediction was recently confirmed by Dill and Anderson (1995).
Hostile aggression is impulsive and thoughtless, driven by anger. Usually, a person feels that they are under siege and must react towards a specific target. Provocation in sport includes verbal taunts, physical contact (sanctioned or unsanctioned), (perceived) bad calls, and frustration. Even such spontaneous aggression has some rationale behind it – however thin the logic may be – such as preventing future rough play or defending one’s ego (Anderson & Bushman, 2002, p. 29). On the basketball court, these displays of aggression often result in unnecessary technical fouls and possible ejections or suspensions. Instrumental aggression is planned and premeditated, driven by a motivation to achieve some goal besides harming a particular target (Anderson & Bushman, 2002, p. 29). For example, taking a charge may discourage a basketball player from driving into the paint in the future and give the team an emotional lift. Athletes must understand the differences between the two types of aggressive behaviour. Coaches want to minimize hostile aggression and the rash actions associated with it. Teams must employ instrumental aggression in order to find an optimal level of intensity but every player must know where the line is and how to stay in control of their emotions.
Short-term impoverishment, such as that brought on by a general decline in economic activity (e.g., a recession or depression), has been proposed as a causal factor in aggression directed against ethnic minorities. The dominant model is that the frustration engendered by such economic downturns leads to increased aggression against relatively powerless target groups. However, research casts considerable doubt on this hypothesis. For example, Green, Glaser, and Rich (1998) reanalyzed data on lynchings and data on "gay-bashing," and showed no evidence of short-term fluctuations in economic conditions and violence directed at minorities.
When participants understand what is happening (or what might happen or has just happened), they are less frustrated and consequently less aggressive (Berkowitz, 1989, p. 67). Common misunderstandings include the role of officials and the rules of the game and conflicts between positions or age groups. Coaches guide players by communicating the rules and how they will be enforced and permitting them to see other viewpoints.
Several common social processes contribute to disproportionate exposure to and learning of aggression-related knowledge structures. Low intellect (social or academic) creates excessive failures and frustration in a variety of developmental contexts. Low social intelligence, for example, leads to problems in interpersonal interactions, whereas low academic intelligence creates problems in school settings. Problems in either context typically lead to higher-than-normal levels of aggression, which lead to further frustrating encounters with parents, teachers, and peers. The resulting social ostracism often forces children to spend more time with other social misfits who also have highly aggressive behavior patterns. This "gang" can impede further intellectual development and reward additional antisocial tendencies.
Other psychological variables with links to aggression also appear to have some genetic basis. Empathy, behavioral inhibition, negative affectivity, extraversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism all have yielded evidence of some genetic heritability, and have obvious links to aggression. General intelligence may also link biological variation to aggressiveness; low intelligence increases the occurrence of frustrating failures and aversive conditions, which might increase the likelihood of a person developing an aggressive personality.
When performance is significant and the perceived rewards, testosterone rises when someone falls short of success. This leads to frustration and possibly aggression. A player following mastery-oriented goals, with frequent feedback, is more likely to remain focused and understand how retaliation will sabotage their long-term objectives (Archer, 1991, pp. 17-18). Assist athletes to set realistic goals so they will not be frustrated if they fail to achieve a lofty goal (Berkowitz, 1989, p. 71).