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"Discuss the media's influence on pro-social behaviour"
AO1 - Social Learning Theory
Bandura's Social Learning theory proposes that all human behaviour
(included pro-social behaviour) is learnt via observational learning.
Observational learning is where an individual identifies with the
behaviour of a role model and then imitates them by modelling their
own behaviour based on the role model's.
There must be some kind of motivation to do this this is known as
This explanation can be used to describe how people (particularly
children) are influenced by pro-social messages in the media.
AO2 Theoretical Criticisms of Social Learning Theory
One theoretical criticism of the social learning theory is that although
it has shown us that exposure to filmed models does affect short term
behaviour in children, this exposure tends to have less of an effect than
it does when children are exposed to real-life models rather than
models on TV or films.
For example, the changes in behaviour (or increases in pro-social
behaviour) observed when children have viewed a pro-social
programme are only short term and cannot really be generalised into
This shows the difficulty of using lab based studies to investigate this
topic as they only produce short `snap shots' of the changes in
behaviour and do not provide any information on long-term effects
after the programme has finished.
Another theoretical criticism of the Social Learning Theory is that it is
based upon behaviourism and the idea that all behaviour is acquired
Behaviourism is hugely outdated and has been labelled as
`anti-mentalist' for failing to consider the important cognitive
processing in the acquisition of new behaviours.
Therefore, this Social Learning Theory may be considered as
reductionist for failing to consider cognitive and biological
A final theoretical criticism of the Social Learning Theory comes from
Camberbatch, who states that the behaviour observed in research
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This therefore acts as contradictory evidence against the Social
Learning Theory as a way of explaining how the media effects (or
increases) pro-social behaviour in individuals who are exposed to it.
AO1 Research showing effects of media on pro-social behaviour
Poulous et al (1975) found that children who watched an episode of
Lassie in which a child rescued a dog were more likely to help puppies
in distress than children who watched a neutral programme.…read more
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Therefore suggesting that these new, improved behaviours will not
become part of the child's daily routine. This shows a lack of
consistency, which can lead to problems with reliability.
Another methodological criticism of the research into the media's
effect on pro-social behaviour is that most researchers used lab-based
studies to investigate.…read more