Social Learning Theory Notes

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  • Created on: 08-07-11 17:36
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Social Learning Theory
Observation- Children observe and learn consequences through vicarious reinforcement. They
observe aggressive behaviour at home, school and in the media and observe the consequences. A
child gradually learns behaviour which is appropriate and behaviour which isn't.
Mental representation- Bandura claimed that in order for social learning to take place the child must
form mental representations of events in their social environment. A child also forms an expectation
of a positive and negative reward for their aggressive behaviour.
Production of behaviour- If a child is rewarded for behaviour; he or she is likely to repeat the same
action in similar situations in the future.
Bandura & Walters - Social Learning Theory (SLT) suggests we learn by observing and copying
others; we learn the specifics of aggressive behaviour.
Bandura's Bobo Doll Study:
Male & Female children aged 3-5 years.
Half exposed to adult models acting aggressively towards a life sized bobo doll. Aggressive
acts include physically acts like striking it with a mallet and kicking it, accompanied by verbal
aggression such as saying `pow'
The other half were exposed to adult models acting non-aggressively towards the life sized
bobo doll.
After seeing the model the children were then frustrated by being shown toys they weren't
allowed to play with.
Children in the aggression condition reproduced a great deal of physical and verbal
aggression as shown by the model, while children in the non-aggressive group showed no
aggression towards the doll.
Verbal aggression shown by models was repeated by a third of those in the aggression
condition. None was repeated by those in the non-aggression condition.
Boys produced more physical aggression than girls, but the verbal aggression was virtually
the same.
Evaluation
The concept of vicarious learning is necessary to explain the findings, as the children were
never directly rewarded for any for any action.
It can explain differences in non/aggressive behaviour between and within individuals. Some
cultures emphasise and model non-aggressive behaviour, producing individuals who show
low levels of aggression. Other cultures model the complete opposite and show higher
levels of aggression. Differences within individuals can be related to selective reinforcement
and context-dependant learning; people respond differently in different situations because
they have observed that aggression is rewarded in some situations and not in others.

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Demand characteristics, the children may have been aware of what was expected of them.
Noble reported that one child said `Look Mummy theres that doll we are going to hit' on
arrival.…read more

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