Road Rage and Air Rage

Two of the most common forms of offensive aggression in modern society are road rage and air rage. Road rage, which generally occurs on crowded, multilane highways, is often committed by otherwise civilized individuals who, when behind the wheel of a car that weighs more than a ton, become irrational. If someone cuts them off in traffic, drives slowly in the lane ahead of them, or commits some other perceived roadway insult, perpetrators of road rage may bump the rear of car ahead of them, pass the car and shoot at the offending driver, or force the offending driver off the road and onto the shoulder, where a fight or a shooting may occur.

Air rage is somewhat different. Some people who have been flying for long periods in cramped airplane conditions, often passing through several time zones, may suffer from disorientation. Often this feeling is intensified by the consumption of alcohol before or during the flight. Such people, if refused another drink or if asked to return to their seats and buckle their seat belts, may strike out at flight attendants or at fellow passengers.

Aggression in Animals

Although humans exhibit aggression in its most subtle and complicated forms, other species of animals also manifest aggressive behaviors. Most animals will fight if they are attacked because self-defense and self-preservation are inherent in most species. Within their own social constructs, some animals will attack those outside their group, even those of the same species, although few animals turn on their own species to nearly the extent that humans do. Carnivorous animals exhibit aggressiveness in preying on other animals as food sources, the large overpowering the small, the swift overtaking the slow, the strong killing and consuming the weak. Most animals also aggressively defend the areas in which they forage and build their nests or dens.

The less aggressive species of animals have been domesticated by humans as sources of food, notably poultry, cattle, and fish. More aggressive animals are sometimes used in sports such as bullfighting or cockfighting. In these instances, the animals are taught aggressive behaviors that are not instinctive in most of them. They are trained to perform, and satisfactory performance on their parts is rooted in aggression.

Aggression and Procreation

Aggressive behavior in nearly all species is rooted in sexuality. The male is usually more aggressive than the female. The sexual act is fundamentally an act of male aggression. Males during their sexual prime maintain the high levels of testosterone that assure the continuance of their species but that also result in aggressive, sometimes antisocial behavior.

The offensive aggression of one species, such as the predatory birds that feed on newborn turtles in the Galápagos Islands, evokes defensive aggressive behavior on the part of those seeking to protect their young and to assure the continuance of their species. The species that demonstrates defensive aggression in a situation of this sort may demonstrate offensive ag gression in pursuing and attacking a weaker species. All of these aggressions among nonhumans are, in the final analysis, directed at preserving the species.

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