Social Learning Theory Essay Plan

Here's an essay plan on the subject of social learning theory. Use it if you want, I chose these studies/explanations as they had the most information to write about. When writing essays in psych remember about breadth and dept, 200 words approx for AO1 and 400 approx for AO2/3.

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  • Created by: Olivia
  • Created on: 23-01-10 15:19
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Social Learning Theory Essay Plan
1. Describe in detail Bandura social learning theory- learn by observing others. We learn the
specifics of aggressive behaviour (e.g. the form it takes, how often it is enacted, the
situations that produce it and the targets towards which it is directed). Role of biological
factors is not ignored, just that potential for aggression is the biological bit and the actual
expression of aggression is learned. Bandura 1961- the bobo doll study- children observed
aggressive and non-aggressive role models and the study looked at how the behaviour
shown was replicated by the children. Males and females aged 3-5 years old. Found children
in the aggressive group reproduced a good amount of the physical and verbal aggressive
behaviour resembling that of the model. In the non-aggressive group, there was virtually no
aggression displayed towards the doll. 1/3 of the children, in the aggressive condition
repeated the model's verbal responses whereas none in the aggressive group. Boys
reproduced more imitative physical aggression than girls, didn't differ in verbal aggression.
2. Bandura said that before social learning can happen, the child must form mental
representations of events in their social environment and have to represent possible
rewards and punishments as expectancies of future outcomes.
3. Critical Point 1: There is one major study that provides good evidence of this theory being
proved true. Bandura in 1961 found a strong correlation between aggressive role models
and children behaving aggressively because they were imitating the role models. However,
there is the issue of demand characteristics, which is the children knew that they were meant
to hit the doll before they started the experiment. Therefore, the research support for this
theory is methodologically flawed.
4. Critical Point 2: There is another flaw to this study, whether Bandura's Social Learning Theory
can be applied to adults or whether this explanation only works for children. in 1986
discovered that daily homicide rates in the US increase in the week after a major boxing max
was on television. This consequently means that it can be applied to real life situations and to
adults as well.
5. Critical Point 3: On the otherhand, Social Learning Theory can be used to explain cultural
differences in aggression. For instance levels of aggression are relatively rare in the !Kung
San tribe as when children argue they are physically separated instead of being rewarded or
punished for their actions. Therefore, they have no motivation to learn aggressive
behaviours. Whereas, the Mundugmor tribe encourage violence and the more aggressive
you are the higher you status is. As a result of this we can say that social learning theory can
be applied universally.
6. Critical Point 4: Although, there is one major strength for it, this is Social Learning can occur
without direct reinforcement, compared to Skinner's theory of operant conditioning. During
Bandura's study at no point were the children directly reinforced for any action aggressive or
non-aggressive. Therefore, this supports vicarious learning part of social learning theory.


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