Bandura, Ross and Ross

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Bandura, Ross and Ross (1961)
This study investigates the imitation of aggression and is based on the principles of the Social
Learning Theory. Four hypotheses were tested:
1) Children exposed to an adult behaving aggressively towards a toy will imitate this behaviour
in the absence of the model.
2) Children exposed to a non-aggressive model will show less aggressive behaviour.
3) Children will imitate same-sex models more than opposite-sex models.
4) Boys will imitate aggressive behaviour more than girls.
Information on experiment
This is a laboratory experiment with a controlled observation.
It is an independent measures design
72 children between 37 and 69 months old
All attended the nursery at Stanford University
Equal number of boys and girls
· Children were either exposed to a same-sex aggressive model, an opposite-sex aggressive
model, a same-sex non-aggressive model or an opposite-sex non-aggressive model
· The children were matched on the basis of their pre-existing levels of aggression, which was
rated on a five-point scales by the experimenter and a nursery school teacher before the
experiment began
· The experiment took place in three stages;
o Children exposed to adult model (individually). In the aggressive condition the model
acted out a series of pre-planned aggressive acts towards the Bobo doll. In the
non-aggressive condition the model played quietly.
o Mild aggression arousal where children were briefly shown some attractive toys and
then told that they weren't allowed to place with them.
o Observation of delayed imitation ­ lasted 20 minutes while child was in a room
containing aggressive and non-aggressive toys and a Bobo doll. Observers watched
through a one-way mirror and three measures of imitation were obtained:
Imitative physical aggression
Imitative verbal aggression

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Imitative non-aggression verbal responses (non-imitative physical
and verbal aggression was also noted)
Independent Variables
There were three independent variables. Which were as follows;
1. Behaviour of model;
a. Non-aggressive model
b. Aggressive model
c. No model (control group)
2. Gender of the model
a. Male role model
b. Female role model
3. Gender of the child
a. Male
b. Female
Dependent Variable
The behavioural response of the children
Inter-rater reliability for the aggressive behaviour was very high (0.9).…read more

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Study provides evidence to suggest that new behaviours can be learnt through social
Study showed how new aggressive behaviours have been transmitted / generalised from
one situation to another.
Witnessing adult models being aggressive legitimises such behaviour and weakens a child's
inhibitions to aggressive behaviour.
Boys may be more aggressive than girls because they have been socialised this way.
Table comparing aggressive and non-aggressive condition:
Action Aggressive Group Non-Aggressive Group Control Group
Physical 50.9 4.2 3.2
Verbal 32.7 1.4 2.4
Mallet 80.2 26.…read more


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