Reducing Aggression and Conflict: The Incompatible Response Approach or Why People Who Feel Good Usually Won’t be Bad by Robert Baron

Article Review

The desire to know what contributes to human aggression is the primary focus of Robert Baron’s study. Utilizing the aggression machine, which was introduced and used by Arnold Buss in 1967, Baron intended to create his own aggression machine and try whether or not a person would choose aggression over calmness when presented with certain situations. In his study, it showed that there are different elements that affected the decision of those who used the aggression machine against the supposed ‘victims’ [the people who participated as victims were not really affected by the aggression machine, but they were there to at least make the participants who used the aggression machine to think that the shocks they were sending through the machine were real]. One of the primary elements observed by Baron to have affected the aggression of the person handling the machine is that of ‘perception and peer motivation’. This aspect imposes the ‘monkey-see-monkey-do’ idealism. Relatively, as one proctor pushes the low button [which releases low shock], the participant[s] try the same. When the proctor pushes the high button, the participant[s] does the same approach. However, what was seemingly interesting in the results was with that of the fact that the participant[s] handling the machine were further motivated to push higher shock wave buttons the longer they stay in control. It seemed that as if the power over the other gave them a hype of being in the verge of authority hence utilizing that power against the other.

On the other end, another element noticed to have affected the reaction of the participants was that of the temperature of the environment where the individuals were situated. The higher the temperature, the more irritated the participants were therefore clouding their judgment and likely pushing them to want to inflict more pain to the other on the other side of the room. It was as if the situation they were in or the environment they were involved in affected the manner by which they decided and reacted on the power that was given into their hands.

Applying these concepts of discoveries in relation to the current system of justice and punishment used in the aspects of applying law and enforcing it among criminals this study hopes to affect how aggression is applied in law enforcement all throughout. It could be understood that aggression on the part of the law enforcers affect so much how they judge a particular situation in relation on how they would likely punish a person for it.  When an enforcer believes that the person actually did what was accused of him, the punishment may start from harsh to even more severe situations. Considerably, it could be understood that it is with this situation that there are instances when some police officers go beyond the limits given to them in relation to applying physical force in imposing punishment to the detainees.

Nevertheless, Baron further suggests that it would be more effective it aggression was utilized with full rational understanding on the part of the police force as they implement punishment. Incarceration in itself is already a punishment, if there is a need to enforce further forms of ‘punishment’ each approach should be assumed with full rational behavior and controlled application of aggression as much as possible. It could be noted that it is only through this that criminals, although branded as bad as they are, could be rehabilitated from the wrong things they have done. Implicating wrong punishment may only put the person in a more severe situation that would escalate his desire to implicate more pain on others once he is released from the bars.


Baron, R. Reducing Aggression and Conflict: The Incompatible Response Approach or Why People Who Feel Good Usually Won’t be Bad.