A man toils away at a degrading job, continually mocked and humiliated by colleges and superiors, but cannot respond for fear of losing his job. He is stuck in a dead end without any hope of succeeding with his goals in life. He goes home and takes his anger out on his wife and children.
Germany, defeated and ashamed after the First World War, is further humiliated by the Versailles Treaty. It cannot respond to those who are causing the humiliation so it takes out its rage and frustration on the Jews.
These are both examples of the Frustration Aggression Theory. This is the idea that preventing someone from attaining their goals creates frustration. If the person cannot respond to the cause of the frustration, it will take its aggression out on a weaker target or scapegoat.
It could be seen as a possible explanation for last year’s London Riots. The rioters were alienated from society and the police force due to unemployment, poverty, alleged police brutality, government cutbacks and isolation. The feeling that they were not part of society, that they were outcasts, created frustration. As society is an inanimate object, they could not directly respond, so took out their anger on random objects in the form of looting and burning.
The theory could be applied to revolutions. Revolutionaries and guerrillas usually come from the poorer sections of society. It is possible that they are frustrated by their poverty and lack of opportunities and express this frustration through violence. After all, the Arab Spring was set off by a single frustrated young man, sick of being constantly hassled by the repressive Tunisian state.
It has been theorised that after a football match, the losing team is more likely to act aggressively or be the cause of violence
It is found that bullying may also be caused by frustration. Bullies often suffer from physical violence at home. It is argued that they take out their frustration on weaker classmates. Some even believe it could be an explanation for school shootings. Often the perpetrator is ostracised from social groups and bullied. It is argued that they are preventing from reaching their goals (in the form of friends and social acceptance) and resort to violence to take out their frustration.
While it is not a perfect theory and modifications could be made towards it, it is certainly a very interesting and useful explanation of the cause of violence.