Violence

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Violence is the expression of physical force against one or more people, compelling action against one's will on pain of being hurt.[2][3][4] Worldwide, violence is used as a tool of manipulation and also is an area of concern for law and culture which take attempts to suppress and stop it. The word violence covers a broad spectrum. It can vary from between a physical altercation between two beings to war and genocide where millions may die as a result. The Global Peace Index, updated in June 2010, ranks 149 countries according to the "absence of violence".[5]

Contents

Psychology and sociology

The causes of violent behavior in humans are often topics of research in psychology and sociology. Neurobiologist Jan Volavka emphasizes that for those purposes, “violent behavior is defined as intentional physically aggressive behavior against another person."[6]

Scientists do not agree on whether violence is inherent in humans. Among prehistoric humans, there is archaeological evidence for both contentions of violence and peacefulness as primary characteristics.[7]

Since violence is a matter of perception as well as a measurable phenomenon, psychologists have found variability in whether people perceive certain physical acts as 'violent'. For example, in a state where execution is a legalized punishment we do not typically perceive the executioner as 'violent', though we may talk, in a more metaphorical way, of the state acting violently. Likewise understandings of violence are linked to a perceived aggressor-victim relationship: hence psychologists have shown that people may not recognise defensive use of force as violent, even in cases where the amount of force used is significantly greater than in the original aggression.[8]

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