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Understanding aggression by using the different types of relationships

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Click here to read the short description of FIPP (recommended for better understanding of the below written)

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Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)

Miklos Fodor developed a model based on three basic concepts (later highlighted in bold) that can describe human behavior in different fields of life e.g. problem solving, love, religion, sex, co-operation. The essence of the model is that it reinterprets the relationship of the Self and Environment, which to date has been considered as a static relationship. Thus, the model distinguishes

Self-narrowing: when the Self perceives the Environment as bigger than itself e.g. in anxiety, fear, making efforts, close attention.


Self-expanding: when the Self expands into the Environment and perceives it as a part of itself e.g. love, happiness, aha experience, orgasm.


The change of the two states can be described with a general pattern, in which the turning point is the emergence of new cognitive schemata, being mental constructions organized on different levels, representing the outside world e.g. concepts, theories, shapes, categories.

The emergence of a new cognitive schema results in a need to communicate, which prompts the Self to associate the new schema with others. The Self-expanding is complete only when such communication occurs.

Example: Problem solving

  • Self-narrowing: as we learn more about a problem, finding a solution to it seems to be increasingly hopeless.
  • Self-expanding: when the person is about to give up, a new cognitive schema establishes itself, which in turn provides a solution to the problem.
  • Communicational pressure: regardless of obtaining a solution to the problem, the person does not experience complete Self-expanding until he can share it with others.

A detailed description of the model and of the basic concepts, with further examples, is provided here.

One virtue of this new model is that it integrates our knowledge of human behavior yet does not contradict psychology’s main discoveries. In addition, it harmonizes with statements of world religions and common sense.

1.  Introduction: the types of relationships between objects

Before examining the concept of aggression, let us take a closer look how we define something and which possible relationships two cognitive schemata can have.

1.1  Defining something


Defining 'Man' in two ways

When we would like to define something (e.g. what is a man) there are two ways to do that:

  • in a positive way: we specify what it is (a man is a human being with masculine sexual organs etc.) OR
  • in a negative way: we specify what is not (a human being that is not a woman)

Please note three things:

  • when we define in positive way, we do not get further information on other things that might belong to the same group (in our case there are no information on women)
  • when we define in a negative way, we have to know exactly the definition of those entities that we excluded
  • the negative way is not that precise, as there might be other member of the set, that are not taken into consideration (e.g. the hermaphrodites in our case are taken also as men)

1.2  Relationships between two entities

As numbers and logic fundamentally determine both our thinking and our view of the world, the truth of mathematics also affects how we look at – amongst other things – relationships. A simple form of this is to describe the relationship between different entities (e.g. GDP and employment rate; sunny days per year and money spent on ice creams, etc.) as positive (e.g. 3 or 251.92), neutral (nil) or negative (e.g. –2 or –659.34). This describes the implicit way in which two entities affect each other during their relationship. However, until we define and measure the effect precisely – not only its direction – we are satisfied with knowing that

  • they help each other’s activity (e.g. when neurons stimulate each other); or
  • they hold each other up (e.g. when neurons inhibit each other); and
  • the condition in which they have nothing to do with each other, maintains, so the entities are independent.

(According to mathematical logic, helping is addition, holding up is negated addition.)


Basic relationship types

Let me define the relationship between cognitive schemata along analogous lines but with a small difference, by dividing the three connections into two differing subtypes:

  • where there is a connection between them (as when there is a road between two cities); and
  • where there is no connection between them (as when there is no road between two cities).


When there is a connection between them, then:


Supportive relationship (illustration)
  • either information streams through it (as when we are free to travel between cities). Let us call this a supportive relationship;



Repulsive relationship (illustration)
  • or the streaming of information is forbidden (when in the middle of the road between two cities/countries armed guards make sure nobody passes through e.g. Iron Curtain; Great Wall; The Wall in Berlin). Let us call this a repulsive relationship. A good way of imagining a repulsive relationship is when we try to define something not by what it is, but by what it is not. (For example, we do not say John is a man, rather that John is not a woman).



Seesaw (illustration)

To illustrate the repulsive relationship using visual analogy let’s take the seesaw (teeter-totter). The two children sitting on a seesaw are connected to each other, but always in an opposite position. One’s position is fully determining the other’s. With mathematical terms the relationship is A=not(B), that leads that if A changes B has to change as well and vice versa.

What is the consequence of the above defined relationships? In the case of supporting connections, the information streams between the connected schemata so freely, and quickly, that it is virtually impossible from an external viewpoint to distinguish the individual elements from either each other or the whole. On the contrary, repulsive connections actively separate whole schemata from each other, thus limiting what is a part of one and what is not.


Different ways of illustrating a schema and its children schemata

Such divisions of relationships, especially the “merging” effect of supportive connections, explain how it is possible that lower-level schemata and their integrations (the higher-level schemata) are at once different and yet the same.

Why are these connections interesting in the case of aggression? That is what we shall now shed light upon.



2.  Perceiving the Environment exclusively by a sole schema that represents it

2.1  The establi