Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 5–17 | Cite as

Physical aggression after being crowded

  • Robert W. Matthews
  • Paul B. Paulus
  • Robert A. Baron


Subjects were given an opportunity to aggress using a Buss machine either immediately or 30 minutes after competing or cooperating on a task in a crowded or uncrowded situation. It was found that for subjects who were allowed to aggress immediately, crowding reduced aggression under the competitive set but had no effect under the cooperative set. This effect of crowding was not found with the delay subjects. The results of this study are consistent with the findings of other studies that social withdrawal rather than aggression may occur in response to aversively dense conditions. The lack of crowding effect after a 30-minute delay suggests that the effect of the laboratory crowding experience is transient in nature and best generalized to short-term crowding experiences such as those encountered on elevators and buses.


Social Psychology Dense Condition Physical Aggression Social Withdrawal Delay Subject 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bandura, A.Aggression: A social learning analysis. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1973.Google Scholar
  2. Baron, R. A.Human Aggression. New York: Plenum Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  3. Baron, R. A., & Bell, P. A. Aggression and heat: The influence of ambient temperature, negative affect, and a cooling drink on physical aggression.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1976,33, 245–255.Google Scholar
  4. Baron, R. A., & Ransberger, V. M. Ambient temperature and the occurrence of collective violence: The “long, hot summer” revisited.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1978,36, 351–360.Google Scholar
  5. Baum, A., & Koman, S. Differential responses to anticipated crowding: Psychological effects of social and spacial density.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1976,34, 526–536.Google Scholar
  6. Baum, A., & Valins, S.Architecture and social behavior: Psychological studies of social density. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1977.Google Scholar
  7. Bell, P. A., & Baron, R. A. Aggression and heat: The mediating role of negative affect.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1976,6, 18–30.Google Scholar
  8. Berkowitz, L. Some determinants of impulsive aggression: Role of mediated associations with reinforcements for aggression.Psychological Review, 1974,81, 165–176.Google Scholar
  9. Byrne, D., & Nelson, D. Attraction as a linear function of proportion of positive reinforcements.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1965,1, 659–663.Google Scholar
  10. Calhoun, J. B. Population density and social pathology.Scientific American, 1962,206, 137–148.Google Scholar
  11. Epstein, Y. M., & Karlin, R. A. Effects of acute experimental crowding.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1975,5, 34–53.Google Scholar
  12. Freedman, J. L., Heshka, S., & Levy, A. Population density and pathology: Is there a relationship?Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1975,11, 539–552.Google Scholar
  13. Freedman, J. L., Levy, A. S., Buchanan, R. W., & Price, J. Crowding and human aggressiveness.Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1972,8, 527–548.Google Scholar
  14. Galle, O. R., Gove, W. R., & McPherson, J. M. Population density and pathology: What are the relationships for man?Science, 1972,176, 23–30.Google Scholar
  15. Hutt, C., & Vaizey, M. J. Differential effects of group density on social behavior.Nature, 1966,209, 1371–1372.Google Scholar
  16. Konecni, V. J. Annoyance, type and duration of postannoyance activity, and aggression: The “cathartic effect.”Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 1975,104, 76–102.Google Scholar
  17. Loo, C. M. The effects of spatial density on the social behavior of children.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1972,2, 372–381.Google Scholar
  18. Loo, C. M. Density, crowding, and preschool children. In A. Baum & Y. Epstein (Eds.),Human response to crowding. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1978.Google Scholar
  19. Mehrabian, A., & Russell, J. A.An approach to environmental psychology. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1974.Google Scholar
  20. Megargee, E. I. The association of population density, reduced space, and uncomfortable temperatures with misconduct in a prison community.American Journal of Community Psychology, 1977, 5, 289–298.Google Scholar
  21. Nacci, P. L., Teitelbaum, H. E., & Prather, J. Population density and inmate misconduct rates in the federal prison system.Federal Probation, June 1977, 26–31.Google Scholar
  22. Paulus, P. B., Annis, A. B., Seta, J. J., Schkade, J. K., & Matthews, R. W. Density does affect task performance.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1976,34, 248–253.Google Scholar
  23. Schettino, A. P., & Borden, R. J. Sex differences in response to naturalistic crowding: Affective reactions to group size and group density.Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 1976,2, 67–70.Google Scholar
  24. Schmitt, R. C. Density, health and social disorganization.Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 1966,32, 38–40.Google Scholar
  25. Seta, J. J., Paulus, P. B., & Schkade, J. K. The effects of group size and proximity under cooperative and competitive conditions.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1976,34, 47–53.Google Scholar
  26. Sherrod, D. R. Crowding, perceived control, and behavioral aftereffects.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1974,4, 171–186.Google Scholar
  27. Smith, S., & Haythorn, W. W. Effects of compatibility, crowding, group size, and leadership seniority on stress, anxiety, hostility, and annoyance in isolated groups.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1972,22, 67–79.Google Scholar
  28. Stokols, D. The experience of crowding in primary and secondary environments.Environment and Behavior, 1976,8, 49–86.Google Scholar
  29. Stokols, D., Rall, M., Pinner, B., & Schopler, J. Physical, social and personal determinants of the perception of crowding.Environment and Behavior, 1973,5, 87–115.Google Scholar
  30. Sundstrom, E. Crowding as a sequential process: Review of research on the effects of population density on humans. In A. Baum & Y. Epstein (Eds.),Human response to crowding, Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1978.Google Scholar
  31. Zlutnick, S., & Altman, I. Crowding and human behavior. In J. F. Wohlwill & D. H. Carson (Eds.),Environment and the social sciences: Perspectives and applications. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1972, pp. 44–60.Google Scholar

References Notes

  1. Booth, A., & Welch, S.The effects of crowding: A cross-national study. Unpublished manuscript. Ministry of State for Urban Affairs, Ontario, Canada, 1973.Google Scholar
  2. Rohe, W., & Patterson, A. H.The effects of varied levels of resources and density on behavior in a day-care center. Paper presented to the Environmental Design Research Association, Milwaukee, 1974. Cited by I. Altman,The environment and social behavior. Monterey, Calif.: Brooks/Cole, 1975.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert W. Matthews
    • 1
  • Paul B. Paulus
    • 1
  • Robert A. Baron
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept. of PsychologyUniversity of Texas at ArlingtonArlington
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyPurdue UniversityBloomington

Personalised recommendations