Frustration aggression theory is a phycological explanation that states that aggression is a possible outcome of blocking someone’s attempts to achieve a goal, and of frustration.


The frustration-aggression hypothesis was first proposed by a group of psychologists from Yale University: Neal Miller, John Dollard, Leonard Doob, Robert Sears, and Orval Mowrer in 1939 in their essential monograph, Frustration and Aggression. Then, Neal Miller in 1941 and Leonard Berkowitz in 1969 developed and re-formulated it. At first, it stated that frustration, which is the feeling of irritation and annoyance if something blocks a person from achieving a goal, always results in aggression, while aggression is a guaranteed outcome of frustration. Then, after the theory was re-formulated, it stated that frustration causes a need to respond, and any form of aggression is its possible result. The frustration-aggression theory is designed to explain the strong connection between the frustration and the aggression, and also that any aggression is the outcome of frustration. This hypothesis tries to show the reasons for violence, abuse, and that frustration is an essential condition for aggression.

It is necessary to mention that John Dollard and his colleagues said that this connection between frustration and aggression was valid for both human and nonhuman, for example, animals, and for groups as well as individuals. That means that one should expect aggressive behavior from an animal or a person that experiences frustration. Sometimes it happens that aggression actually takes the form of retribution against the original source of disappointment. In some other cases, situational limitations may stop a person from responding to the real cause of frustration. This happens when frustration is triggered by a compelling person or group of people. In situations like natural disasters, no one should be blamed, but frustration still may cause aggressive tendencies and behaviors.