AQA Social Learning Theory for Aggression - Essay

Full essay on SLT including A01, A02/3 and Approaches, Issues and Debates :)

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  • Created on: 28-05-13 19:30
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Outline and evaluate one social psychological theory for aggression (8+16)
Bandura proposed that although individuals are biologically predisposed to aggression, this
will only be expressed upon observing aggressive behaviour. He stated that watching the
consequences for an individual after performing an action decided whether the child would
instigate the behaviour through vicarious reinforcement. Therefore the first stage of SLT is
observation. For behaviours to be learned the individual must pay attention to the model. In
this way information about the behaviour can be encoded by the brain. If social learning is to
occur the individual must form a mental representation or schema of the event and
consequences. The second stage of SLT is instigation where the behaviour is replicated for
the first time. This will only occur if the individual feels confident that they can recreate the
behaviour (self-efficacy). The third stage of SLT is regulation where if the instigated
behaviour was rewarded it will be regulated, whereas if it was punished it will not be
P - Bandura's Bobo dolls study supports SLT. E ­ He showed children various scenarios
involving aggressive behaviour being performed on a bobo doll. He found that the children
were likely to behave aggressively after being deliberately frustrated and imitated specific
behaviours they had observed in the films. Chance of the aggressive acts being imitated
increased if the aggressive role model was rewarded, but decreased if the role model was
punished. This suggests that although observational learning can occur, imitation will only be
seen if the behaviour is vicariously reinforced. E ­ However, the study lacked mundane
realism. A bobo doll is meant to be hit; therefore the children may not actually be
demonstrating aggression. The doll encourages aggression. To increase the validity,
something that does not promote aggression should be used instead, as using a bobo doll
is not a good indicator of how aggressive a person is. Also, there are sample issues. The
children used in the study were the children of Bandura and his colleagues in the university,
therefore the children may have demonstrated demand characteristics in order to please
their parents, decreasing the validity of the study as the behaviours demonstrated may not
be how the children would act in another environment. Therefore the sample is
unrepresentative. L ­ Although Bandura's findings support SLT, we must be cautious of the
methodological issues.
AIDS ­ SLT is based on the behavioural approach. It states that we learn from our
environment but also the cognitive processes involved, therefore it is a good all rounded
explanation for aggression. Because of this, it is able to offer explanations of inconsistencies
of aggression, for example being angry at work but not at home, suggesting that our
environment affects aggression. However, SLT isn't a complete approach as it fails to
account for the role of biological factors, such as the role of testosterone.
AIDS ­ SLT emphasises imitation, learning and the influence of models. This is very much a
nurture explanation. It ignores the established importance of biological, genetic and

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Perhaps SLT explanation alone is incomplete;
we may need to consider environmental factors with the biological factors.
A02 ­ SLT makes cognitive sense. It seems obvious that environmental experiences must
have an influence on the social learning of violence in children. Bandura reported that
individuals who live in areas with high crime rates are more likely to act violently than those
who live in low crime areas. However, there may be other factors that explain these findings,
for example poor education.…read more


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