By Sheriff F. Folarin, PhD Associate Professor Political Science and International Relations

This is a psychological hypothesis of conflict that posits that it is natural for man to react to unpleasant situations. The hypothesis is drawn from the frustration-aggression theory propounded by Dollard and Doob, et al (1939), and further developed by Miller (1948) and Berkowitz (1969). The theory says that aggression is the result of blocking, or frustrating, a person’s efforts to attain a goal.  

Frustration is described as the feeling we get when we do not get what we want, or when something interferes with our gaining a desired goal, as shown in the case of Niger Delta, and that of the Palestinians or Hutus in Rwanda. Anger implies feeling mad in response to frustration or injury; while aggression refers to flashes of temper (Tucker-Lad, 2013). The frustration aggression theory states that aggression is caused by frustration. When someone is prevented from reaching his target, he becomes frustrated. This frustration can then turn into anger and then aggression when something triggers it.

When expectation fails to meet attainment, the tendency is for people to confront others they can hold responsible for frustrating their ambitions or someone on whom they can take out their frustrations. And when aggression cannot be expressed against the real source of frustration, displaced hostilities can be targeted to substitute objects, that is, aggression is transferred to alternate objects.