Social Learning Theory

  • Created by: ew12342
  • Created on: 23-02-16 10:01
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  • Social Learning Theory
    • Social learning theory suggests that we learn by observing others, and the specifics of aggressive behaviour. Bandura et al's bobo doll study illustrates many important principles.
    • The bobo doll study
      • This experiment involved children observing aggressive and non-aggressive adult models and then being tested for imitative learning in the absence of the model.
      • Participants were between 3 and 4 years.
      • The model displayed distinctive physically aggressive acts towards the doll accompanied with verbal aggression.
      • Children were put into two groups, an aggressive condition and a non-aggressive condition.
      • Children in the aggressive condition reproduced a lot more aggressive behaviour, the non-aggressive condition displayed near to none.
      • This study does not tell why a child would be motivated to perform the same behaviours.
      • Bandura and Walters conducted a follow up study.
        • It was found that children who saw the model being rewarded for aggressive acts showed a high level of aggression in their own play.
        • Those who saw the model being punished displayed a low level in their play, whereas those in the no reward or punishment were between the two levels of aggression.
        • Bandura called this vicarious learning, the children were learning about the likely consequences of actions, and then adjusting their behaviour accordingly.
    • Observation
      • Children learn their aggressive responses through observation and then imitating the behaviour.
      • Operant conditioning theory - claimed that learning takes place by watching others being rewarded or punished. This is called vicarious reinforcement
      • By observing the consequences of aggressive behaviour for those who use it, a child gradually learns about what is acceptable.
    • Mental Representation
      • Bandura claimed that in order for social learning to take place, a child must form a mental representation of events in their social environment.
      • The child must also represent possible rewards and punishments in terms of expectancies of future outcomes.
      • When appropriate opportunities arise in the future, the child will display the learned behaviours as long as the expectation of reward is greater than the expectation of punishment.
    • Production of behaviour
      • If a child is rewarded for a behaviour, they are likely to repeat the same actions in the future.
      • E.g. if a child has a history of successful bullying they will therefore attach considerable value to aggression.
      • Children also develop confidence in their ability to carry out the necessary aggressive actions.
      • Children for whom this form of behaviour has been disastrous in the past have less confidence in their ability to use it, so therefore they may turn to other means.


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