OUTLINE & EVALUATE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO EXPLAINING HUMAN AGGRESSION

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OUTLINE & EVALUATE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO EXPLAINING HUMAN AGGRESSION
SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY
This theory, advanced by Bandura, states that we learn by imitating role models. Behaviour is more likely to be imitated if: The
model is similar to the individual (i.e. boy watching male), The model is admired (i.e. celeb), The model receives reinforcement for
the action (i.e. something good happens, something bad is stopped)
If the model is reinforced for their actions, the individual is more likely to imitate the behaviour. If they are punished for it, this will
decrease the likelihood that behaviour will be imitated.
RESEARCH EVIDENCE FOR SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY
Bandura's Bobo Doll Study:
Showed children a role model behaving aggressively towards a Bobo doll - then observed the children when they were
introduced to the same room with the Bobo doll
Found that many of the children showed signs that they were imitating the aggression
o Suggesting they were only behaving that way because of their exposure to the actor's aggression.
His findings implied that behaviours such as aggression are determined by someone's social environment. When the role
models were rewarded for their aggressive behaviour the children's aggression increases, showing that learning can also
be vicarious.
It was also found that if the child identified with the role model (i.e. boys watch adult males commit the aggressive acts
toward the Bobo Doll) the more likely they were to mirror their behaviours.
EVALUATION
There are several criticisms we can make with Bandura's study. Methodological issues include the fact that Bobo dolls are not living
people and does not retaliate when hit, and therefore lacks ecological validity. Therefore it is questionable as to how much the
study tells us about the imitation of aggression towards other human beings. Also some people argue that there are high demand
characteristics involved in this study as the situation was unfamiliar so the children may have been acting in the way they thought
they were expected to.
Social learning theory also ignores biological factors which may influence aggressive behaviour such as high levels of testosterone
and ignores any evidence suggesting biological or genetic components influence human aggression and so the theory is simplistic.
Strength of social learning theory however, is its ability to explain cultural differences in levels of aggression. Some cultures
emphasize and model aggressive behaviour whereas others emphasise non-aggressive behaviour and produce individuals with low
aggression levels
DEINDIVIDUATION
Deindividuation involves the loss of personal identity & personal responsibility we become anonymous - can occur when we are in
a crowd or in a uniform. As a result people will unquestionably follow group norms (as appose to their usual personal norms)
which may lead to aggression through loss of personal responsibility & reduced self awareness. T
RESEARCH EVIDENCE FOR DEINDIVIDUATION
Mann: 48% suicide jumpers from tower blocks were encouraged by the crowd to jump, More likely if: (1) Crowd was large (2) It was
dark (3) Crowd was far away from jumper. Each increases the level of deindividuation thereby increasing the chance of aggression.
EVALUATION

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