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PSY FPX 8840 Assessment 4 Understanding Aggression as an NFL Athlete


Capella University

PSY FPX 8840 Principles of Sport Psychology

Prof. Name



  • Gain insight into the application of psychological theory to understand aggression.
  • Explore the intersection of research and aggression.
  • Examine the historical context of aggression in sports performance.

What Constitutes Aggression?

Aggression encompasses deliberate actions aimed at causing harm or discomfort to others (Anshel, 2012). It is crucial to distinguish aggression from mere negative thoughts, verbal expressions of hostility, or emotional states like anger. Furthermore, proactive assertion inherent to certain sports does not necessarily involve malice (Husman & Silva, 1984).

Different Forms of Aggression
InstrumentalPurpose-driven with or without causing injuryTackling in football (NFL, 2019)
Hostile/ReactiveIntentionally aiming to inflict harmUnnecessary roughness in football (NFL, 2019)
Rationale for Researching Aggression through a Psychological Lens
  • Gain insights into the psychological mechanisms underlying aggressive behavior.
  • Explore the transfer of aggression from sports to daily life.
  • Develop coping strategies to mitigate hostile aggression.
Utilizing Psychological Frameworks to Decipher Aggression

Revised Frustration-Aggression Theory (Berkowitz, 1965):

  • Proposes that frustration or external stimuli elevate arousal and anger, escalating aggression.
  • Manifests only if the individual has learned the appropriateness of such behavior in a given context.

Assessing the Strengths and Limitations of Psychological Theories on Aggression

  • Extensive research in collision sports like football, wrestling, and hockey.
  • Prevalent in popular sports.
  • Gender bias in research.
  • Reactive nature, waiting for adverse events to occur.
Tracing the Evolution of Aggression in Sports Performance

Aggression in sports can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as the Greek and Roman empires (Guttmann, 1998). Various factors influence aggression levels, including environmental conditions and game dynamics (Wann, 2005).

Diversity and its Impact on Aggression
  • The perception of aggression varies across different sports.
  • Gender and age significantly shape aggressive behaviors within sports settings.
Identifying Gaps in Aggression Theories and Diversity Considerations
  • Lack of consensus on aggression’s definition among researchers.
  • Disparities in athlete positions and sizes.
  • Inadequate research on women in football.
  • Need for integrating neuroscience insights into aggression studies.
Enhancing Sports Performance through Aggression Management
  • Employing advanced protocols and concussion testing to understand the link between brain trauma and aggression.
  • Early detection of brain trauma effects such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) can improve player safety.

Aggression in sports, particularly football, is multifaceted. Striking a balance between instrumental and hostile aggression while channeling excessive aggression positively can enhance player effectiveness. However, further scientific inquiry and research are imperative for comprehensive understanding and effective management of aggression.

PSY FPX 8840 Assessment 4 Understanding Aggression as an NFL Athlete


Anshel, M. H. (2012). Sport psychology: From theory to practice (5th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

Berkowitz, L. (1965). The concept of aggressive drive: Some additional considerations. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 301-329). New York: Academic Press.

Guttmann, A. (1998). The appeal of violent sports. In J. Goldstein (Ed.), Why we watch: The attractions of violent entertainment (pp. 7–26). New York: Oxford University Press.

Husman, B. F., & Silva, J. M. (1984). Aggression in sport: Definitional and theoretical considerations. In J. M. Silva & R. S. Weinberg (Eds.), Psychological foundations of sport (pp. 246–260). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

National Football League. (2019). 2019 OFFICIAL PLAYING RULES OF THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. Retrieved from

Wann, D. L. (2005). Essay: Aggression in sport. The Lancet, 366, S36-7. Retrieved from

PSY FPX 8840 Assessment 4 Understanding Aggression as an NFL Athlete

Widmeyer, W. N., Dorsch, K. D., Bray, S. R., & McGuire, E. J. (2002). The nature, prevalence, and consequences of aggression in sport. In J. M. Silva & D. E. Stevens (Eds.), Psychological foundations of sport (pp. 328–351). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.

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