Social Learning Theory
Bandura and Walters (1963)
Observation - Children learn aggressive behaviour through observing then imitating their behaviour. Children also learn about the consequences of aggressive behaviour by seeing if they are praised or punished - vicarious reinforcement.
Mental representation - For SLT to take place the child must form mental representations of events in their social environment. The child will then decide in the future whether the reward is greater than the punishment and therefore worth repeating.
Social Learning Theory
The Bobo doll study (Bandura et al, 1961)
Children observed aggressive and non-aggressive adult models then tested for imitation in the absence of the model.
- Male and female children 3-5 years old, one half were aggressive adults hitting the bobo doll and the other half were non-aggressive towards the doll
- Accompanied by verbal aggression such a hitting the doll saying 'POW'
- Children were shown toys and were not allowed to play with them making them fustrated, and were taken into a room with the bobo doll
- Aggressive condition = copied the model and were much more aggressive than the other condition
- 1/3 repeated the verbal abuse whereas none did in the non-aggressive group
- Boys were seen as more aggressive than girls
Motivation to aggress (Bandura et al)
- Children spilt into 3 groups each seeing a different ending to a film of an adult behaving aggressively to a bobo doll
- Group 1: saw model rewarded, Group 2: saw model punished and Group 3: no consequences
- Influenced by whichever ending they saw: high reward = more aggressive, punished = low level of aggression and no consequence = varied level of aggression
Social Learning Theory
- Phillips (1986) found daily homocide rates in the US almost always increased in the week following a major boxing match suggesting viewers were imitating the boxers.
- Unlike operant conditioning SLT can explain aggressive behaviour when there is no direct reinforcement. Even though the aggressive group saw someone being aggressive to the doll he was never rewarded.
- Individual differences = can explain differences in aggressive and non-aggressive behaviour both between and within individuals. The culture of violence theory proposes that in some societies there is a social norm of violence and aggressive behaviour. People respond differently in different situations as they have no observed that aggression is rewarded in some situations and not others.
- Validity (demand characteristics) = possible that the children in Bandura's study knew what was expected of them. Noble (1975) reports that one child arriving to the experiment said 'Look mummy that's the doll we have to hit!'.
- Cultural differences = in Kung San when two children argue netiher are rewarded or punished but physically separated so they focus on different things. Parents do not use physical punishments as there was little motivation for the children to be aggressive so they are not.
- Gender differences = boys seen to be more aggressive than girls in Bandura's experiment
- The doll was not a real person so we are unaware of how a child would act towards a person
This theory is based on the clasic crowd theory of Gustave Le Bon (1895) who described how an individual was transformed when part of a crowd as collective mind takes possesion of the individual. A psychological state characterised by lowered self-evaluation and decreased concerns about evaluation by others. Increase in behaviour is not expected due to social norms e.g. anonymity - wearing a uniform.
People normally refrain from acting in an aggressive manner as there are no social norms that accept this as they are identifiable. Being anonymous in a crowd has the consequence of reducing inner restraints and increasing behaviours that are usually inhibited. Zimbardo 'being part of a crowd can diminish self-awareness of their own individuality as each person is faceless and anonymous, the larger the group the less identifiable'
Zimbardo (1969) female undergraduates where 1 group covered up their faces with bulky lab coats with no hoods and no name tag. The other group wore normal clothes name tags facing each other. They had to shock each other and the group with no names shocked twice as much as they were unidentifiable. Series of experiments that were instrumental in the development of the theory as anonymity is a key component of deinviduation.
Rehm (1987) Investigated whether wearing a uniform when part of a sports team also increased aggressive behaviour. One group wore orange shirts the other had mixed clothing and they played handball, the group with the orange shirts were more aggressive.
The faceless crowd research
Mullen (1986) analysed newspaper cuttings of 60 lynchings in the US and found that the more people in the mob the greater the aggressive behaviour to the victim.
Mann (1981) used the concept of deindividuation to explain a bizarre aspect of collective behaviour - the 'baiting crowd'. He found there were 21 suicide leaps in the US and 10 of these had a crowd to watch them jump and urged them to jump. Baiting occured more at night in a large crowd as unidentifiable.
Reduced private self-awareness research
Prentice-Dunn et al (1982) offer an alternative perspective to Zimbardo's conclusion that anonymity is an important determinant. Reduced self-awareness rather than anonymity leads to deindividuation, if an individual is self-focused they are less likely. If an individual is self-focused they are less likely and if an individual submerges in a group and loses focus deindividuation occurs.
- Johnson and Dowling (1979) found any behaviour produced could be a product of local social norms - they used the same experimenta conditions as Zimbardo but made anonymus by masks.
- Zimbardo's Stamford prison experiment
- Lack of support = a meta-analysis of 60 studies found there was insufficient support for the major claims of deindividuation. Postmes et al found disinhibition and anti-social behaviour are not more common in large groups. Not much evidence that deindividuation is associated with reduced self awareness.
- Prosocial consequences of deindividuation = some studies have shown that deindividuation may also increase the incidence of prosocial behaviour.
- Gender differences = Cannavale et al (1970) male and female groups respond differently under deindividuation conditions, increase in aggression was only obtained in the all male groups showing males are more prown to disinhibition of aggressive behaviour.
- Cultural differences = 23 societies changed their appearance before going to war (wanted to be unidentifible) were more destructive to their victims than if they did not change appearances.