Social Attachment, Brain Function, Aggression and Violence

  • Gary W. Kraemer
Part of the Nato ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 292)


In primates intraspecies aggression can be viewed as a purposeful social behavior. Many species of nonhuman primates establish relatively stable social groups. Intragroup aggressive encounters generally occur when the intragroup dominance hierarchy is not stable, and such encounters more often than not have the effect of restoring stability. Hence, aggression is usually both socially regulated and regulatory as far as intragroup and interindividual interactions are concerned. “Violence” can be defined as unregulated aggression, and it is lack of regulation that distinguishes violence as being disruptive and anti-social. One way to address and understand the causes of violence is to investigate the mechanisms by which social behavior per se usually comes to be regulated. “Attachment” has been traditionally viewed as being the process by which the infant bonds to a caregiver and thereafter develops and maintains affiliative intraspecies relationships. An implication of this view is that social behavior is ultimately both caused and regulated by guided internal motivations to develop affiliative social relationships. Investigations of the psychobiology of attachment mechanisms indicate, however, that the neurobiological development of the primate infant is considerably more plastic and less internally guided than previously thought. While past theories suggested that species specific .neurobiological mechanisms develop autonomously and enable the infant to engage in regulated social interactions, the more current view is that neurobiological systems that regulate behavior develop their usual mature stature as a result of experiencing affiliative interactions. Disruption of usual affiliative attachments produces what amounts to neurobiological dysregulation. This translates to failure to regulate usual social behaviors, and one result of this may be violence.


Rhesus Monkey Biogenic Amine Nonhuman Primate Violent Behavior Social Stimulus 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary W. Kraemer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Kinesiology and Harlow Primate LaboratoryUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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