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Aggression definition

Agression is an act carried out by a person with the intention of harming another person.

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SLT to aggression

  • Social learning theory is from the behavioural approach
  • It says that aggressive behaviour is learnt
  • SLT suggests that we learn to be aggressive by observing a model, imitating their behaviour which is motivated by the aim of getting acceptance.
  • If we see that a person is being punished for their behaviour then we are less likely to imitate their behaviour
  • Similarlily if we see a person being praised for their behaviour then we are more likely to imitate it. 
  • This is known as vicarious reinforcement 
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SLT to aggression - Bandura

Banduras ARRM theory of aggression;

  • Attention - the observer must be watching a paying attention to the aggressive model
  • Retention - the aggressive behaviour must remembered
  • Reproduction  - the observer has to be physically and mentally able to reproduce behaviour
  • Motivation -  the observer must want to imitate the behaviour
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SLT to aggression - Bandura Bobo doll study


  • 72 children aged 3-5 taken into a room with toys
  • Half of the children saw an adult act aggressively towards a Bobo doll
  • The other half saw an adult act non-aggressively
  • The children were then taken into a seperate room with toys including a bobo doll and their behaviour was observed


  • All of the children who had seen an aggressive model acted aggressively, whereas all of the children who had seen a calm model, acted calmy
  • The children who had an aggressive model who was the same gender imitated the behaviour more


  • Evidence to support that behaviour can be imitated through observation
  • Evidence to support gender
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Deindividuation explanation of aggression

An individual becomes deindividuated and therefore aggressive when they lose their individuality and personal identity. 
Factors that contribute to this include wearing a uniform, a common goal or being in a group.

Le bon (1986) claimed that in a crowd, individuals are more likely to behave in an aggressive or anti-social manner as a collective mob mindset is created and the group act as one.

People do not normally show aggressive behaviour because they can be indentified and social norms prevent it. However, when this mob mindset sets in, the individual becomes aggressive because their self-awareness and the fear and guilt of being judged by others are significantly reduced because they are not identifiable.

Public self awareness invloves the individual being anonymous to others

Private self awareness invloves a loss of personal identity

A reduction in private self awareness means the individual behaves out of character and takes their cues for how to behave from the crowd. This results in the individual no longer making rational desisions and becoming truly deindividuated therefore aggression is more likely to occur.

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