Situational explanations disagree that aggression is caused by the individuals, and propose that aggression in prisons is the result of environmental factors. Social Psychologists maintain that when individuals are in crowded conditions this can cause a rise in aggressive behaviour. In addition, by their very nature as a form of punishment, prisons are stressful environments. One situational explanation has been put forward by Sykes (1958) which proposes that aggression results from a number of environmental deprivations.
Exam Hint: Students may be tempted to use the social psychological explanation of deindividuation as a situational explanation; however, these answers tend to lose focus on institutional aggression and became general essays on the social psychology of aggression. There is a common problem of linking deindividuation explanations explicitly to institutional aggression.
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