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Sailo A. Contesting the “territorial aggression thesis” in environmental psychology, ca. 1965–1980. J Hist Behav Sci. 2018;54:198–214.

Contesting the “territorial aggression thesis” in environmental psychology, ca. 1965–1980

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Author: Sailo, Annukka1
Organizations: 1Department of History of Science and Ideas, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2018
Publish Date: 2020-07-03


In the latter part of the 1960s, the ethologically derived idea of territoriality as an explanation for human aggression became widely debated among social scientists. The instinctual basis of human territorial aggression was promoted by so‐called popular ethologists and consequently embraced by lay audiences. The article examines how the emerging field of environmental psychology adopted the notion of human territoriality from ethology and made it into a part of their own research agenda. It shows how environmental psychologists were inspired by the fashion around the claimed relevance of human territoriality for the large‐scale social problems, such as aggression, war and population growth. Despite of the obvious influences and comparisons between animal and human behavior, many environmental psychologists wanted to contest not only the ‘territorial aggression thesis’ but also the relevance of animal studies for the analysis of human behavior.

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Series: Journal of the history of the behavioral sciences
ISSN: 0022-5061
ISSN-E: 1520-6696
ISSN-L: 0022-5061
Volume: 54
Issue: 3
Pages: 198 - 214
DOI: 10.1002/jhbs.21910
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2018. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.