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Discuss social and psychological
theories of aggression (8+16 marks)
By Daniela Petrillo…read more

Slide 2

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Social Learning Theory (AO1)
· Believes aggression is learnt as we observe aggressive acts from our model, then imitate the
· Bandura states that observational learning involves 4 processes:
1. ATTENTION: Learning occurs when they attend to a model's behaviour in order to
reproduce it.
2. RETENTION: To reproduce the modelled behaviour, they must encode the information in
their long term memory in order to retrieve it.
3. REPRODUCTION: Individuals must have the skills and capabilities to be capable of
reproducing the behaviour. E.g. Punching a doll.
4. MOTIVATION: Individuals expect to receive a positive reinforcement for modelled
behaviour in order to motivate them.
· There are also several factors influencing whether they imitate the behaviour, such as if the
reward is valued more than the punishment, and if the model is similar to the observer E.g.
Same age or gender.…read more

Slide 3

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Study to support: Bandura (AO2)
· PROCEDURE: Used either men or women to model aggressive acts on a Bobo doll, like hitting
it on the nose with a mallet.
· Observed if children aged 3-5 years imitated these behaviours.
· FINDINGS: Found that children in aggressive condition had higher verbal and physical
aggressive scores than the non aggressive and control groups, whom 70% had zero ratings of
· Both genders more influenced by male model.
· CONCLUSIONS: Observations of behaviour can lead to imitative learning.
· People more likely to imitate male models as physical aggression is perceived as a more
appropriate behaviour.…read more

Slide 4

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Evaluation for Bandura study (AO2)
A weakness is that it is only based on nursery children ­ can't generalise SLT to
· adult aggression ­ adult aggression could be more complicated E.g. due to jealousy
rather than just copying behaviour ­ adults could face legal consequences and use
their free will to choose whether to be aggressive or not.
Another weakness is the study lacks ecological validity ­ carried out in a lab with
artificial tasks (hitting Bobo doll on nose with mallet) ­ difficult to generalise to
real life situations of aggression ­ could be many influences to stop children
being aggressive such as parents.
A final weakness is that it raises ethical issues ­ protection of participant ­
children placed under psychological stress ­ could potentially lead to long
term consequences in encouraging children to be aggressive in the future ­
could learn to deal with stress in an aggressive manner.…read more

Slide 5

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Study to support: Bandura and Walters
· PROCEDURE: Made children observe aggression, but this time in a film.
· One group saw model being rewarded for their aggression.
· Another group saw model being punished.
· A third group saw model receive no consequence.
· FINDINGS: Group who saw the model being rewarded were more likely to imitate the
· Bandura called this vicarious learning.…read more

Slide 6

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Evaluation for SLT (AO2)
A strength is that SLT successfully explains individual differences and cultural
· differences in aggression as resulting from different learning experiences ­ E.
g. In travelling community, it is acceptable to sort disputes with the use of
aggression between males ­ Amish community are passive and non
Weakness is that this approach only accounts for nurture ­ says that you
learn from environment unlike biological explanation (too much
testosterone) ­ says you are aggressive due to an imbalance of bio
chemicals .…read more

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