social learning theory 

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  • social learning theory
    • Bandura and Waters - aggression couldn’t be explained in traditional learning theory where only direct experiences were seen as responsible for acquisition of new behaviours.
      • SLT – we learn by observing others
        • We learn the specifics of aggressive behaviour (form it takes, how often it’s enacted, situation that produces it and the target at which it is directed).
          • Biological factors create a potential for aggression but the expression of aggressive behaviour is learned
            • Bandura et al – support this
    • Observation
      • Bandura – children primarily learn their aggressive response through observation, by observing role models with whom they identify
        • Skinner’s operant conditioning theory claims that we learn by direct reinforcement
          • Children also observe and learn about consequences by watching others being reinforced or punished; directly or vicariously
            • By seeing behaviours they learn what is considered appropriate or effective
    • Mental representation
      • Bandura - for SL to take place, kids must form mental representations of events in their social environment
        • Kids must also represent possible rewards/punishments
          • Kids will display learnt behaviour as long as the expectation of reward is greater than the expectation of punishment
    • Production of behaviour
      • Maintenance through direct experience - if kid is rewarded for their behaviour they’ll repeat it
        • Self-efficacy experiences: if aggressive behaviour is beneficial for a kid e.g. assertiveness they’ll re-use it
    • Role of punishment
      • Bandura and Waters – rewarded children for imitating the model’s aggressive behaviour. All 3 groups performed imitative acts, the group offered rewards had highest aggression levels, the group not offered anything had middle levels of aggression and the group given punishment had the lowest levels, showing that SLT takes place regardless of reinforcement. Punishment prevented performance
    • Applicability to adults
      • Philips – daily homicide rates went up the week after a major boxing match; suggesting viewers influenced by behaviour they watched
    • Strengths
      • The role of vicarious learning - SLT can explain aggressive behaviour in the absence of direct reinforcement
    • Cultural difs
      • Kung-San! Kids are aggressive (fight) but parents don’t reward nor punish
        • They physically separate kids and don’t use physical punishment nor aggressive postures.
          • This shows there is little opportunity or motivation for the kids to become aggressive in behaviour
    • validity
      • Demand characteristics (Noble pointed it out).
        • Also the doll doesn’t hit back
          • However, the study was repeated by Bandura with a model beating up a real clown
            • Same results as Bobo


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