Describe and evaluate the social learning theory of aggression (25 marks)

Describe and evaluate the social learning theory of aggression (25 marks)

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Describe and evaluate the social learning theory of aggression. (25 marks)
The social learning theory comes originally, from Gabriel Tarde. He claimed that the key
characteristics of imitation were; behaviour of role model, copying the behaviour of those of
a higher status, degree of contact with the role model and degree of understanding of the
Bandura's social learning theory had 4 basic processes at its core there were:
Attention which is how much do you concentrate on the model showing the behaviour?
Retention which is storing the behaviour you saw
Reproduction which is copying the behaviour you saw
Motivation which is having good reason to imitate
In 1963 Bandura and Walters believed that aggression isn't just learned through direct
reinforcement but through indirect too, for example watching others. They didn't ignore
biology either and claimed that a person's biological make-up creates a potential for
aggression and the actual expression is what is learned.
Bandura then did another study in 1961 observing children's aggressive and non aggressive
behaviour by watching adult models. They got thirty six boys and thirty six girl's ages
between 37 and 69 months and did the study at Stanford University nursery. The study had 3
major conditions; a control group exposed to an aggressive model and a group exposed to a
passive model. The children who were exposed to the adult model were further sub divided
by their gender and by the gender of the model they were exposed to. They judged
aggressive behaviour on 4 5-point rating scales. The rating scales were physical aggression,
verbal aggression, aggression towards inanimate object and aggressive inhibition.
For the experiment, each child was exposed to the scenario individually, so as not to be
influenced or distracted by classmates. The first part of the experiment involved bringing a
child and the adult model into a playroom. In the playroom, the child was seated in one
corner filled with highly appealing activities such as stickers and stamps. The adult model was
seated in another corner containing a toy set, a mallet, and an inflatable Bobo doll. Before
leaving the room, the experimenter explained to the child that the toys in the adult corner
were only for the adult to play with. During the aggressive model scenario, the adult would
begin by playing with the toys for approximately one minute. After this time the adult begins
to show aggression towards the Bobo doll. The non-aggressive adult model simply played
with the small toys for the entire 10 minute-period. In this situation, the Bobo doll was
completely ignored by the model then the child was taken out of the room. The next stage
placed the child and experimenter into another room filled with interesting toys. After about
2 minutes the experimenter decides that the child is no longer allowed to play with the toys.
This was done to build up frustration. The experimenter says that the child may play with the
toys in the experimental room including both aggressive and non-aggressive toys. In the

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The study showed that those who saw the
aggressive model beat Bobo up and those who didn't see the aggressive behaviour didn't
beat Bobo up.
However this study can be criticised as we can say that it has low ecological valid
To get results to be accurate you need to make sure that the study is true to life. Bandura's
study was done in a laboratory to be able to test aggression.…read more

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It also considers the fact that different children may react
differently to surroundings so having a big sample will reduce the risk of having unreliable
Therefore we can say that aggressive behaviour may be learnt through in-direct
reinforcement causing children to act this way. This means the results can be generalised.
This study was very scientific
The setting of Bandura's study was done in a laboratory. This means that all extraneous
variables were controlled because they had high control over them.…read more

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