Supervisor and a subordinate yell at each other in a company office

Understanding FAP: The Frustration-Aggression Principle

FAP is a psychological concept. It was proposed by:

  • John Dollard,
  • Leonard Doob,
  • Neal E. Miller,
  • O. Hobart Mowrer,
  • Robert Sears

This hypothesis suggests that:

  • Frustration leads to aggression
  • Implying a causal relationship between the two:
    • While it’s often referred to as the:
      • Frustration-Aggression Principle
  • Initially it was proposed as a hypothesis.
  • Later research has both supported and refined this idea
  • The original formulation was indeed put forth by Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, and Sears in 1939.

FAP: Understanding the Concept

  • When someone is prevented from achieving a desired goal, they experience frustration, which can trigger aggressive behavior.
  • This principle highlights the link between frustration and aggression in human behavior and mental state.
  • It has been influential in understanding various aspects of social behavior and conflict resolution.
  • Frustration is an inevitable part of life.
  • Whether it’s encountering obstacles in our endeavors or facing challenges in our professional lives, we’ve all experienced moments of frustration.

FAP: The Origin

  • The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis emerged during a time of growing interest in understanding the underlying causes of aggression.
  • Against the backdrop of societal unrest and the looming shadow of World War II, psychologists sought to unravel the complexities of human behavior, particularly about aggression.
  • Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, and Sears proposed the hypothesis that frustration serves as a precursor to aggressive behavior.
  • They argued that when individuals are thwarted in their efforts to achieve a desired goal, they experience frustration.
  • This frustration, in turn, triggers a readiness to aggress.

Key Concepts of FAP

The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis consists of several key concepts. It makes the relationship between:

  • Frustration
  • Aggression


  • Frustration arises when individuals encounter obstacles or barriers that prevent them from reaching their goals.
  • This frustration can stem from various sources, including external constraints.
  • It can also arise from interpersonal conflicts or internal obstacles.


  • Aggression refers to behavior intended to cause harm or injury to others, either physically or psychologically.
  • It can manifest in diverse forms.
  • These forms range from verbal hostility to physical violence.


  • One aspect of the Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis is the notion of catharsis.
  • Catharsis refers to the release of pent-up aggression through non-harmful outlets.
  • While initially proposed as a potential mechanism for reducing aggression, subsequent research has called into question its effectiveness.

FAP: Implications and Critiques


  • The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis has significant implications for understanding various aspects of human behavior.
  • These aspects include interpersonal conflict, social unrest, and aggression-related phenomena.
  • However, it has also faced criticism and refinement over the years.


  • Critics argue that the relationship between frustration and aggression is more complex than initially proposed.
  • This complexity is influenced by factors such as individual differences, situational variables, and cognitive processes.
  • Additionally, research has highlighted the role of learned behavior, social norms, and cultural factors in shaping aggressive responses to frustration.


  • The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis highlights the link between frustration and aggression
  • It does not account for the myriad ways in which individuals may respond to frustration, including:
    • Adaptive coping strategies,
    • Problem-solving approaches, or withdrawal


  • The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis remains a foundational concept in the study of human aggression.
  • It offers valuable insights into the interplay between frustration and aggressive behavior.
  • Its origins can be traced back to the work of Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, and Sears,
  • Subsequent research has both supported and refined its central tenets.
  • From interpersonal violence to international conflicts:
    • Understanding the dynamics of frustration and aggression is essential for:
      • Addressing a wide range of societal challenges
  • By exploring the complexities of human behavior through the Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis, psychologists continue to deepen our understanding of:
    • What drives individuals to engage in aggressive acts
    • How can these tendencies be mitigated or redirected toward more constructive ends?

FAP: Call to Action

  • Raise your dimensions to explore:
    • The intricacies of human behavior by:
      • Uncovering the complexities of:
        • Frustration
        • Aggression
  • Unravel the nuances of human behavior and gain insights that can inform your understanding of the world around you.

A strong believer in and practitioner of teamwork; caring about people instinctively; and able to build good interpersonal relations; culture-focused, capable of diversification in the competitive environment. Her area of interest is Nature as a whole. She likes learning and meeting people; meetup with her own self during long walks. She believes in the power of positivity; it adds beauty to life. She aims to make life beautiful with positivity and extend help wherever she finds the opportunity.

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