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Psychology   >   Aggression – The Psychology of Aggression

The MAOA Gene

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Aggression – The Psychology of Aggression

In this course, Dr Claire Lawrence (University of Nottingham) explores the psychology of aggression and aggressive behaviour. In the first lecture, we think about the genetic basis for aggression, associated with the so-called ‘warrior gene’ MAOA. In the second lecture, we think about the neural and hormonal mechanisms involved in aggressive behaviour, including serotonin. In the third lecture, we think about the role of testosterone in aggressive behaviour. Next, we think about how social learning theory can help us to understand aggression as a learned behaviour. In the fifth and final module, we think about the Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis as a social psychological model which argues that frustration, the feeling of having our goals thwarted, is a key factor in causing aggressive behaviour.

The MAOA Gene

In this lecture, we think about the MAOA gene, also known as the ‘warrior gene’, focusing in particular on: (i) its biological function being to regulate the production of monoamine oxidase A in the human body and how this may be linked to aggressive behaviour; (ii) a study by Brunner et al. (1993) which suggests that there is a relationship between the low-activity version of the MAOA gene and high levels of aggression in males; (iii) the research of Caspi et al. (2002) which shows that it is not the MAOA gene alone but rather the interaction between an individual’s genetic makeup and their environment (e.g. childhood trauma) which has a significant impact on aggression.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Lawrence, C. (2019, September 27). Aggression – The Psychology of Aggression - The MAOA Gene [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Lawrence, C. "Aggression – The Psychology of Aggression – The MAOA Gene." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Sep 2019,

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Dr Claire Lawrence

Dr Claire Lawrence

Nottingham University