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· Behaviour intended to cause
physical/mental harm to someone/thing.
· Can be direct or indirect/ active or passive/
verbal or physical.
· Two types:
-Hostile: desire to inflict harm for its own
-Instrumental: desire to inflict harm to
obtain an additional goal.…read more
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Social Psychological theories of
Social learning theory (SLT) of aggression
· Bandura and Walters put forward the social learning theory of aggression. It suggests that we learn by observing others
and learn the specifics of aggressive behaviour (How, why, what, who). The theory states that people have a biological
disposition for potential aggression, but the actual expression of aggression is learned.
· Traditional behaviourism is limited (Skinner) because it assumes actual reinforcement is needed for modelling, whereas
Bandura suggests merely observing is enough.
· Children learn their aggressive behaviour through observation/modelling with someone whom they identify.
· They learn the consequences by observing the punishments and rewards of aggression by others. (Vicarious
reinforcement). This allows them to develop a sense of what is appropriate and effective behaviour and whether they are
· Suggested that conditions for modelling were A.R.R.M (pay ATTENTION, REMEMBER, REPLICATE, be MOTIVATED to
Cognitive factors of SLT- Mental representation
· He stated that for SLT to take place, the child needs to form mental representations of events in their social environment, in
terms of what they expect as outcomes (reward/punishment). The child will behave as remembered so long as the rewards
outweigh the punishments.
Production of behaviour-
· Direct experience- child experiences rewards for behaviour directly will repeat the action in the future.
· Self efficacy/belief- if the behaviour copied was successful, the child will have high self efficacy, and so will carry it out again.
If it was unsuccessful, they will have low self efficacy, and so will be more unlikely to carry out the behaviour.
Research Support- Bandura et al
· Involved Children observing non/aggressive adult models and being tested for imitative learning without the model.
· PPs= male + female aged 3-5. Half exposed to adults acting aggressively to Bobo Doll, and the other to non aggressive
· The aggressive adult physically and verbally abused the doll, kicking it, hitting it with a mallet and shouting POW.
· The children was agitated/frustrated by being shown attractive toys they could not play with, and were then taken to a room
with other toys and the doll.
· Children in the aggressive condition replicated a good deal of verbal and physical aggressive modelled behaviour, with about
1/3 repeating the verbal aggression. With boys showing more physical aggression, but no diff in verbal.
· The children in the non aggressive group showed virtually no aggression to the doll and made no verbal remarks.…read more
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Evaluations of SLT-
· Bandura et al's study did not explain why the children would be motivated to replicate the behaviour in absence of
the model. So Bandura and Walters carried out a further study and found that children who saw the model being
rewarded for aggressive acts showed a high level of aggression in their own play, whereas children who saw the
model punished showed a low level. While the no reward/punishment group were in the middle. This offered
evidence for vicarious learning.
Research support- Cultural differences-
· Role of punishment- · SLT can explain cultural differences in aggression too.
-Bandura's study did not specify whether · The !Kung San's in the Kalahari Desert neither punish nor
punishment prevented learning or reward their children for arguing/fighting, they separate and
prevented performance or the behaviour. distract them. The adults avoid aggressive acts, and
-He repeated the study but after the punishments are never physical.
children's exposure, offered them · The absence of direct reinforcement of aggressive behaviour
rewards for copying the aggressive and lack of aggressive models explains why aggressive is
behaviour. This suggested that learning comparatively rare in the group.
did take place, but production of Ethical issues-
behaviours is related to selective · Exposing children to aggressive behaviour with the possibility of them
reinforcement. reproducing it causes issues with protection from harm, and studies
· Applicability to adults- such as Bandura's would not longer be allowed, making it very difficult
- Can the studies explain adult behaviour to test the SLT of aggression now. This means it is difficult to establish
as well? scientific credibility to the theory.
-Phillips found that daily murder rates in
US almost always increased following a
major boxing match, suggesting adults Validity-
imitate behaviour also. · The children may have been aware of what they were expected
Role of vicarious learning- to do (demand characteristics) of hitting the doll.
· Major strength of theory as it explains aggressive · The doll did not hit back as would be expected of another person,
behaviour in the absence of direct reinforcement. and so their behaviour may not be generalizable.
· In Bandura's original study, the children were not · However Bandura responded to this criticism by producing a
rewarded for copying the aggressive behaviour and video of a woman beating up a live clown. Having been shown
so suggests that vicarious reinforcement isn't needed this the children went into a room where there was a live clown
to explain the findings. and proceeded to hit him, hammer him and kick him etc.. !!
(SERIOUS ETHICAL ISSUES)…read more
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· An individual becomes deindividuated when they RESEARCH SUPPORT-
lose their identity due to being a part of a crowd Diener suggested deindividuation occurs when
or identifying with a particular role, leading them self awareness is blocked by environmental
to engage in antisocial behaviour. events which cause the person to feel different
· The theory is based on the work by Le Bon who and less concerned about the consequences of
claimed that a `collective mind-set' develops in a their behaviour. He also suggested that when in
crowd making them act as one, and making them a deindividuated state, individuals behave more
more likely to behaviour aggressively or impulsively as they focus on outside events
antisocially. rather than their own feelings, increasing the
probability of aggressive behaviour.
· In groups, individuals feel less identifiable and
Prentice-Dunn and Rodgers refined the
this can lead to: loss of inhibition as they no
deindividuation theory by distinguishing
longer feel restricted by social norms which
between the effects of public self-awareness
would prevent their aggressive behaviour when
(being anonymous to others) and reduced
private self-awareness (loss of personal
· Zimbardo offers research evidence for this by identity):
claiming deindividuation occurs as people -Reduced public self-awareness occurs when a
become anonymous in a large crowd meaning person is apart of a crowd, as being anonymous
they face less social disapproval and a reduced means they believe they can't be held
sense of guilt for the harm they inflicted. responsible for their actions- disinhibition not
· Zimbardo also suggests factors that contribute to deindividuation.
deindividuation are: anonymity (uniforms); size of -Reduced private self-awareness occurs when
the group and altered consciousness (alcohol a person behaves out of character and takes
and drugs). Although he stressed that these can cues for behaviour from the crowd meaning
lead to pro-social behaviour (festivals/ live aid) they no longer make rational decisions and so
the focus of the theory is on anti-social aggression is more likely.
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· The idea that anonymity increases aggression is LIMITATIONS-
supported by evidence from Zimbardo who: asked
groups of 4 female students to give electric shocks to · Lacks ecological validity as it is based on evidence
another student-pps in the deindividuated condition conducted in lab conditions, and so pps make not
were never referred to by name, wore lab coats and act as they would in real life. The experiments lack
hood to hide their face. The individuated condition mundane realism.
wore normal clothes, were introduced by name and Rehm addressed this issue by conducting
given large name tags to wear. research on real life displays of aggression shown
-He found that regardless of whether the student was by 11yr olds in sport by making only the team wear
described as `honest', `conceited' or `critical' the a uniform. He found that the uniformed teams
deindividuated pps shocked the learner twice as long displayed more aggressive acts then the non-
as the individuated pps. uniformed teams, although this was only apparent
-This study suggests that aggressive behaviour for boys teams.
produced by deindividuation is mot influenced by the -Suggests the theory displays gender (beta) bias,
characteristics of the individual receiving the as it assumes the effect on deindividuation to be
The validity of the theory is supported by:
aggression. the same for girls and boys.
· Diener who observed that anti-social behaviours were
more likely to be performed by children who were in a -The differences in gender aggression in Rehm's
large group wearing clothes that hid their identity. study can be attributed to the higher levels of
-This suggests that the theory has external validity as testosterone in boys than girls, which has been
the effects of deindividuation can be observed outside shown to increase aggression.
· Cross-Cultural research into this has shown that
deindividuation appears to be universal. Watson
collected data on warriors in 23 cultures and found that
those who concealed their identity in conflict were
more aggressive than those who were identifiable.
-This research suggests that aggression resulting from
a reduction of personal identity maybe genetically
determined having evolved as fitness in males was
directly related to their ability to provide and protect
their family and so aggression would have been