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Aggression, hostility common among Russians

“Why does the Russian society have a high level of aggression, animosity and unfriendliness these days?” experts ask rhetorically

MOSCOW, October 17. /TASS/. “Why does the Russian society have a high level of aggression, animosity and unfriendliness these days?” experts ask rhetorically and explain the sad facts by consequences of transition from one economic system to another, by low cultural level and negative impact of the mass media alongside the feeling of being incapable of affecting their own future.

Every second resident of Moscow faced aggressive behavior towards himself/herself or others, sociologists from the Public Opinion foundation say.

During a phone survey, at least 30% of respondents said aggressive and violent actions in the city streets and public places had become frequent for them. At the same time, half of Moscow’s population believe that people had become more aggressive than 15-20 years ago.

In December 2013, researchers from the Psychology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the shocking results of their research. They said that Russians have tripled their level of aggressiveness and arrogance since the perestroika started in the mid-1980s by the then-Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev.

Experts say that the most convincing indicator here is the statistics of murders — Russia registers four murders against one in the United States and about ten against one in most countries of the European Union. Domestic violence is known in one family out of four.

“In the Soviet Union the welfare of most residents in the country was almost equal, so there was an impression that people were kinder,” said Valeriya Kasamara, a sociologist. “However, when a new economic model has been defined, most people had to live through the troubles which were new for them and it was an extremely powerful turning point. At these times not very pleasant traits of character wake up inside a person.”

A most significant reason behind negative changes in the society is a lower level of culture and a cult of personal success that should be achieved at any cost. People just cannot manage their emotions and vent their fury on the people who happen to be nearby.

Media with their fashion for “a corpse that livens up a picture” contribute their considerable mite to boosting aggression in the society, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily cited deputy head of the Psychology Institute Andrey Yurevich as saying.

“They (media outlets) displaying non-stop the glamorous lifestyle of celebrities, provoke our compatriots, especially the younger generation, to set the goals beyond their grasp and this impossibility to attain them leads to frustration,” he said.

At the same time, “political programs on television determine a rather aggressive attitude to certain countries and create an image of the world around our country as hostile and dangerous,” the expert said. “Dissatisfaction with the authorities produces aggression, too. And being unable to ‘get to’ them, common people switch their annoyance either to each other or to some social groups.”

Another expert, Sergey Yenikolopov, the chief of the medical psychology department of the Mental Health Research Center at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, blames the mass media, and in particular the Internet, for stoking aggressive moods.

“They offer the values and criteria of success that most of the population cannot achieve,” he said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.

People are cheated when treated to “some movies about Cinderellas,” he said. “And the conflict between a real life and a fairy tale for those, who do not grasp they are told a fairy tale, is truly tragic.”

The Internet has a negative impact on the growth of aggression, said Timofey Nestik, a lead researcher of the Psychology Institute.

“Social networks occupy a specific place here,” he told TASS. “They create an instinct of disinhibition so that a person who behaves within the norms in the society feels at ease on the Internet. Gradually, the standards attained on the websites leaked through to real life.”

Nestik says that a low level of tolerance may add to spreading aggression in the society.

“This is connected with people’s anxieties about their future, with their inability to discuss it and with disbelief that the future could be affected and amended,” he said. “So low confidence in other people, xenophobia and hatred towards people of different views, of another culture and religion spring from these sensations.”

“Long-term planning and goal setting prove to become impossible in the situation of instability,” he said. “For instance, Russian students make plans for a span of one to three years, while the Chinese students — for the next 20 years. In the Soviet times, it was far more predictable but now we live in a society of risk since it is getting more difficult to hold ideals of solidarity and care for one another."

ITAR-TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors


TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors