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Relationship between prosocial behavior and aggression


I found your discussion points profound and mentally stimulating, especially your comment on victims of violence forgiving their attackers or doing acts of compassion to help them cope with the trauma they had endured. The findings of Gull and Rana (2013) corroborate your statement as they explained in their pilot study of 10 males and 10 females, where they carried out an investigated of the manifestation of forgiveness on the quality of life and subjective well-being of participants. They found nine beneficial effects of forgiveness, as well as men reporting experiencing more contentment and spiritual development when they practice forgiveness; meanwhile, women reported experiencing more tolerance and a reduction in negative thoughts when they practice forgiveness. It is not known if the participants were victims of violence as the researchers reported that they used a sample of convenience; however, do you think the public should be educated on the results of this pilot study as well as your suggestive comment? 


Gull, M., & Rana, S., (2013). Manifestation of forgiveness, subjective well-being, and quality of life. Journal of Behavioral Science; Lahore, 23(2), 17-36. 


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Relationship between prosocial behavior and aggression

The research conducted by McCullough and colleagues helps shed light on the complex relationship between prosocial behavior and aggression. In his book "Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct," McCullough (2008) states that forgiveness is essential to human nature, evolving and helping promote social harmony and cooperation. He argues that forgiveness helps people in reconciling and maintaining relationships, promoting prosocial behavior. McCullough and Tabak (2010) further elaborate on prosocial behavior in their book "Advanced Social Psychology," noting that it encompasses actions intended to benefit others, such as altruism and cooperation. They argue that prosocial behavior is crucial in helping maintain social relationships and is associated with positive outcomes, such as increased life satisfaction and improved mental health.

According to McCullough's study, forgiveness may serve as a defence mechanism against aggressive behavior by dampening feelings of resentment and vengeance (2008). McCullough and Tabak, who argue this point, point out that helping others is linked to less hostility (McCullough & Tabak, 2010). Aggression is less common among those who practice prosocial behaviors like helping others and showing empathy. Since people who participate in prosocial conduct have more favorable impressions of others and are less inclined to retaliate aggressively, this has profound consequences for fostering peaceful and cooperative social connections. As a result, forgiveness and prosocial conduct are effective methods for dealing with aggressive behavior and fostering healthy relationships.

Moreover, there is bi-directionality in the connection between violence and prosocial behavior. According to research by McCullough and Tabak (2010), victims of violence are more likely to act selflessly as a coping technique. Victims of violence may find that forgiving their attackers or doing acts of compassion helps them cope with the trauma they have endured. In domestic abuse, when victims may engage in prosocial activity to sustain the relationship and prevent more aggression, this result is significant. Good and bad outcomes might result from using forgiveness as a coping method.

On the one hand, forgiveness may increase feelings of well-being and lessen the chances of revenge or additional aggressiveness. Conversely, if a victim forgives an abuser, they may be less inclined to report the incident or seek treatment. Forgiveness and acts of kindness may help mitigate the harm caused by aggression, but it is crucial to be aware of the dangers and restrictions associated with using them in the context of intimate partner abuse.

Recognizing that forgiveness and prosocial behavior are not universal solutions to aggression is essential. McCullough (2008) emphasizes that there are situations where forgiveness may not be appropriate, particularly in cases of repeated and unrepentant abuse. In such cases, forgiveness may not only be ineffective in reducing aggression, but it may also perpetuate the cycle of abuse by allowing the aggressor to continue their behavior. Similarly, prosocial behavior may not successfully reduce aggression, as many complex factors contribute to aggressive behavior. For example, individuals motivated by power or dominance may be less likely to respond to prosocial behavior or forgiveness to reduce aggression. Therefore, while forgiveness and prosocial behavior can be powerful tools in managing and preventing aggression, they should be used judiciously and with other strategies that address the root causes of aggression.

In conclusion, McCullough and colleagues' work emphasises the need to forgive others and engage in acts of kindness to foster social cohesion and lessen hostility. Prosocial conduct and forgiveness may aid people in preserving healthy relationships and avoiding the destructive outcomes of violence by encouraging empathy and teamwork.


McCullough, M. (2008).  Beyond revenge: The evolution of the forgiveness instinct. John Wiley & Sons.

McCullough, M. E., & Tabak, B. A. (2010). Prosocial behavior.

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