PSYA3 - Aggression Topic 1

Social Learning Theory & Deindividuation

HideShow resource information

Social Learning Theory

Bandura et al. 1965:

  • Aggression is learned through direct or vicarious reinforcement
    • Direct: operant conditioning
    • Vicarious: learning by example i.e they see a role model punching someone so they in turn punch someone.
  • Social learning theorists say that for behaviour to be imitated, it must be rewarding in some way i.e REINFORCEMENT

Later, in 1986 Bandura said that individuals must weigh up the possible rewards and punishments from acting aggressively. If the rewards outweigh the punishment, they will probably go ahead with the violence. Social learning will have taken place.

  • Evaluation: can explain inconsistences in aggressive behaviour - why people are violent at different times/places e.g. at home but not at work
  • explains why there are different levels of violence in different cultures- they dont practice it, children cannot learn it and visa versa
  • S.L.T ignores biology!
1 of 4

Key Research: Bobo Doll Studies

Bandura (1963) -

  • 66 nursery school children - seperated into three groups.
  • All three groups watched a film where an adult kicked and punched a Bobo doll, whilst shouting aggressive comments.
    • group one: film ended after the violence.
    • group two: film ended after the adult was rewarded for being violent.
    • group three: film ended after the adult was punished for being violent.
    Afterwards, children were watched playing with the doll themselves.
    • group one - some aggressive behaviour.
    • group two - MOST aggressive behaviour.
    • group three - LEAST aggressive behaviour.
    They were all then offered sweets to be violent- massive increase (even in condition 3 - behaviour had been learned, but they chose not to do it before due to fear of punishment!).
    • Evaluation: bobo doll not a real person, wont cry or recoil in pain.
    • Others doubt they had learned aggression purely based on that film.
2 of 4


Deindividuation: "A process whereby people lose their sense of socialised individual identity and engage in unsocialised, often anti-social behaviour". - Hogg and Vaughan.

  • People less likely to engage in anti-social behaviour when they can be indentified - e.g. Milgram. Teacher's less likely to shock learners when in same room as them.
  • Zimbardo: People in a crowd lose their sense of identity because they become faceless and anonymous. There is less of a feeling of guilt and retribution.

Check et al (1981): Almost a third of male university students said they might commit **** if there was no chance of them getting caught.

Zimbardo's prison: dehumanisation of the prisoners e.g. calling them by a number, and the anonymity of each group made it easier for guards to be aggressive to prisoners. -

but did they act like that because they thoughts that's how gaurds act?

  • Evaluation: Pro-social behaviour can occur in groups e.g religious rallies.
    • many do not detinguish between the effects of anonymity of those being aggressed against or those doing the aggressing.
3 of 4

Research into Deindividuation

Mann (1981): analysed 21 incidents of suicides in America reported in newspapers. He found that 10 out of the 21 where a crowd had gathered to watch, baiting had occurred.

These baiting incidents tended to happen at night, when the crowd was large and some distance away from the jumper. DEINDIVIDUATION may have occured.

Mullen (1986): lynchings in America. The greater the crowd, the greater the greater the savagery.

  • Watson 1973: Those that change their appearence in battle will be more prone to torture etc.
  • Of the 13 societies studied that tortured their victims, all but one group changed their appearence. Of the 10 that were not brutal, seven groups did not change their appearence.
  • Evaluation of Watson: Zimbardo supports the findings.
  • Researcher bias - database is full of reports from researchers that have different cultural practices than said place. may fail to accurately represent these cultures.
4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Aggression resources »