Social learning theory- antisocial behaviour

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  • SLT as an explanation of antisocial behaviour
    • Learning can occur when one individual (learner) observes and imitates another (model)
      • e.g a young girl may watch an older girl pinching another child and try to copy her
      • According to Bandura (1977) Modelling will occur when the observer pays attention, is able to remember and reproduce what they have observed when they are motivated to do so (ARRM)
    • The importance of modelling was illustrated by Bandura et al (1961)
      • He found that children exposed to the aggressive role models imitated their exact behaviours
        • Girls were more likely to imitate verbal aggression and boys physical aggression
          • These finding illustrate the potential risk for children exposed to antisocial models
        • Such findings may not indicate how children respond to violent models on TV as the models in Bandura's study were seen face-to-face
    • For the observer, self-esteem is an important determinant of imitation
      • Lower self-esteem = more likely to imitate behaviours
      • Vicarious reinforcement- If observer sees models being rewarded for their actions, they are more likely to imitate them
    • Direct positive reinforcement for imitated violence- children may be rewarded for their behaviour by obtaining benefits through threatening others e.g taking their sweets
      • Positive reinforcement may come from feeling of power or via increased status
        • e.g imitating actions of a TV villain may increase popularity. These feeling act as reinforcers and increase the frequency of the behaviours
    • Evaluation
      • Huesmann (1986) observed that children who identify more strongly with aggressive TV characters and perceive TV violence as more realistic are also more aggressive
        • Lab experiments may not, however, produce very valid data about the effects of TV viewing. The measures of aggressive behaviour are very specific and may not reflect the range of behaviours that could be the product of media influence such as social exclusion
          • There are no consequences to limit their behaviour as there would be in reality such as sanctions from adults
          • An alternative source of real-world evidence comes from natural experiments e.g Charlton et al (2000)
            • Procedure used by Charlton was highly valid and a rigorous method. However findings may may unrepresentative of other western communities as St Helena Island is very isolated
    • When characters on TV use violence they are modelling aggression
      • Wilson et al (2002) counted 14 violent acts an hour in children's television but less than 4 in adult TV
        • If models have high social status, powerful and likeable- these characteristics appeal to young people so they identify with the models and imitation is more likely


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