Full model answers for all of these questions are available here

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  • The limbic system
  • Serotonin and testosterone


  • Twin and adoption studies
  • The MAOA gene
  • Evaluation of genetic factors


  • Innate releasing mechanisms and fixed action patterns
  • Evolutionary explanations of human aggression


  • The frustration-aggression hypothesis
  • Social learning theory as applied to human aggression
  • De-individuation


  • Prisons & dispositional and situational explanations


  • Television & computer games
  • Desensitisation, Disinhibition, Cognitive priming


SPECIMEN PAPER 1 (AQA A-level Psychology notes)

Read the item and then answer the questions that follow.

News correspondents in inner cities have remarked upon how young males frequently carry weapons and engage in threatening behaviour.

Using your knowledge of evolutionary explanations of aggression, account for these high levels of aggression in young males. [4 marks]


Briefly outline and evaluate the findings of one research study into genetic factors in aggression. [4 marks]


Describe and evaluate the social learning theory of human aggression. [16 marks]


SPECIMEN PAPER 2 (A-level Psychology revision notes)

Discuss the role of genetic factors in aggression.

[16 marks]


A psychologist was interested in the effects of violent computer games on aggression in young boys. Following appropriate ethical procedures she set up a study in which she identified ten boys who played violent computer games for at least two hours a day (Group A), and another group of ten boys who did not play violent computer games (Group B). The boys were systematically observed in their school playground on five separate occasions and the total number of aggressive behaviours they demonstrated was recorded. The data are given in Table 4 below:

Table 4: The effects of playing violent computer games on aggressive behaviour in boys


Complete Table 4 by calculating the median for the two groups. Why did the psychologist use the median as a measure of central tendency rather than the mean? [4 marks]


Briefly outline the possible role of cognitive priming in the effects of computer games on aggression. [2 marks]


Briefly explain one limitation of the situational explanation for institutional aggression. [2 marks]


SPECIMEN PAPER 3 (AQA A-level Psychology revision notes)

What are innate releasing mechanisms? [2 marks]


Discuss media influences on aggression. [8 marks]


Read the item and then answer the questions that follow.

A psychologist was investigating the effect of prison conditions on institutional aggression.

He selected a sample of 12 prisoners and counted the number of aggressive acts of each prisoner over one day in the exercise yard.

The prison conditions were then changed, such that the number of prisoners per cell was reduced and regular exercise periods introduced.

After three months of these new conditions the psychologist observed the same 12 prisoners and again counted the number of aggressive acts of each prisoner over one day in the exercise yard.

This study involves a repeated measures design.

Explain one advantage of using a repeated measures design in this study [2 marks]


The psychologist obtained the following results:

  • For two of the prisoners the number of aggressive acts increased
  • For eight of the prisoners the number of aggressive acts decreased
  • For two of the prisoners the number of aggressive acts stayed the same

The psychologist decides to use a sign test to see if his data are significant.

What is the calculated value of the sign test statistic ‘S’? Explain your answer. [2 marks]


Look at the table of critical values of ‘S’ below and then answer the question that follows.


Using the table of critical values of ‘S’ above, state whether the findings of the study are significant at p < 0.05. Explain your answer. [2 marks]


Outline and evaluate the role of neural and/or hormonal mechanisms in aggression. [8 marks]


2017 (How to revise for A-level Psychology)

Briefly explain how cognitive priming in the media might influence aggressive behaviour. [2 marks]


A psychologist is investigating causes of aggressive behaviour. She interviews teenagers who have been in trouble at school. She asks them to describe their family and early childhood, recording everything that they say. She also looks at information in the teenagers’ school reports.

Referring to this investigation, explain the difference between primary and secondary data. [4 marks]


Explain how the psychologist could continue her investigation by carrying out thematic analysis of the interview recordings. [2 marks]


Describe and evaluate evolutionary explanations for human aggression. [16 marks]


2018 (Psychology A-level revision)

Which two of the following statements are TRUE? Write the two correct letters in your answer book. [2 marks]

A           Aggression involves high MAOA gene activity

B           Aggression is influenced by the amygdala

C           The amygdala is located in the prefrontal cortex

D           The MAOA gene affects levels of testosterone

E           The MAOA gene influences levels of serotonin


Some people suggest that the media influences aggression through desensitisation. Evaluate desensitisation as an explanation for aggression [6 marks]


John was arrested for fighting with supporters of a rival team after a football match.

He explained to the police officer why he was aggressive. The police officer noted John’s comments in her notebook.

Table 5 below shows some of John’s comments.

  • The players were fighting on the pitch
  • Our team lost again – it’s not fair
  • Supporters of the other team ganged up on us
  • I was with my mates – we were all punching at once
  • Everyone else was fighting, so I just joined in

Discuss one or more social psychological explanations for aggression. Refer to some of the comments in Table 5 in your answer. [16 marks]


2019 (A-level Psychology revision)

A psychologist used a set of negative images to assess violent attitudes before and after participants played a 30-minute computer game. In a repeated measures design, 15 participants were tested before and after playing the game using a single set of images.

Explain how two sets of images could be used in this study and why this would be an improvement. [4 marks]


Each participant had a different total score in the before condition, where the maximum score was 40 and the median score was 23.

How many of the participants had a score < the median in the before condition?

Explain your answer. [4 marks]


Researchers observed two brightly coloured male Siamese fighting fish. The fish were in separate tanks with a slide screen between the tanks so the fish could not see each other. When the slide screen was raised so that the fish could see each other, they both reacted by puffing themselves up to appear larger. The fish also puffed themselves up when a small, brightly coloured piece of card was displayed alongside the tank.

Describe what is meant by a fixed action pattern. Refer to the study above in your answer. [8 marks]


Outline and evaluate the dispositional explanation for institutional aggression in prisons. [8 marks]


2020 (AQA A-level Psychology revision)

Describe neural mechanisms in aggression. [6 marks]


Jane is talking about her husband to a friend.

Jane says, “Bill gets angry if I text any of my male friends. He’s always looking at my mobile phone. He gets upset if I want to go out with friends and insists on coming along too. I suppose it is nice in a way because he is so strong and protective.”

Use your knowledge of evolutionary explanations of aggression to explain Jane’s comments. [4 marks]


Outline one strength and one limitation of evolutionary explanations of aggression. [6 marks]


Discuss the frustration-aggression hypothesis as an explanation for human aggression. [8 marks]


2021 (AQA A-level Psychology revision guide)

Psychology students sometimes propose hypotheses that are untestable.

Which one of the following is essential for a testable hypothesis? Write the correct letter in your answer book. [1 mark]

A           The hypothesis should be written to include the word ‘significant’.

B           The hypothesis should include fully operationalised variables.

C           The hypothesis should refer to a difference between the conditions.

D           The hypothesis should use appropriate psychological terminology.


An expert in institutional aggression focuses on how living conditions and environment can affect prisoner aggression. He visits Sharksville prison where there has recently been a prison riot. He observes the prison accommodation, prison conditions and how decisions about daily routine at the prison are made.

Which explanation for institutional aggression assumes that aggression is due to the institutional environment? [1 mark]


Referring to your answer to Question 26, describe what the expert could recommend to reduce institutional aggression at Sharksville prison. [4 marks]


Outline one limitation of the explanation for institutional aggression you have used to answer Question 27. [2 marks]


Describe and evaluate one or more of the following biological explanations for human aggression: neural, hormonal, genetic. [16 marks]


2022 (A-level Psychology resources)

Outline the effects of computer games on aggression. [4 marks]


Briefly evaluate the effects of computer games on aggression. [4 marks]


Discuss the influence of genetic factors in aggression. [16 marks]