Psychology - Aggression




  • Using the 'sandwich technique' explain how research from Bandura (1961)supports the SLT (social learning theory).
  • Using the 'sandwich technique' explain how research from Bandura (1963)supports the SLT (social learning theory).


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  • Research support for SLT comes from Bandura (1961). Bandura aimed to discover whether imitating affects a childs aggressive behaviour. In the aggressive condition children showed lots of physical and verbal aggression, 70% of children in the non-aggressive & control groups had 0 ratings of aggression. This supports SLT as it shows that high levels of physical & verbal aggresion is a result of imitation, in the aggressive condition. This research therefore shows that SLT of aggresion is valid.
  • Research support for SLT comes from Bandura (1963). Bandura aimed to discover whether imitation & reinforcement affects a childs aggressive behavior. Children in the model-punished group had fewer imitative aggressive behaviours than others. There was no significant difference between the model-reward & no consequence group. This shows that (like SLT suggests) reinforcement effects a childs aggressive behaviour as positive reinforcement resulted in high levels of aggression, whereas no consequences/ punishment group had low levels. The research therefore shows that SLT of aggressive is valid.
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  • Name 5 synoptic strengths/ limitations of Bandura (1961) & (1963) research.

(HINT: cultural validity, population validity, RM/ methodology, sample & ethics)



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Cultural Validity - ''Stanford University nursery'' - American sample, can't generalise to other cultures - unrepresentative - lacks cultural validity

Population Validity - ''Stanford University nursery'' - young sample, adults may behave differently in the circumstances - unrepresentative - lacks population validity. However, Stack (1987) found that the highest number of suicides in NYC was soon after Marilyn Monroe's death - shows that adults learn from modelling

RM - lab experiment - artifical & lacks realism (watched films for 4 mins, without justification of aggression) - unable to generalise - lacks ecological validity

Sample - PPT's were 36 boys & 36 girls - no one was under-represented - not andro/estrocentic - can generalise to others - high population validity

Ethics - children were manipulated into becoming aggressively aroused (not allowed toys) & were encouraged to be aggressive in aggressive condition

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  • Briefly explain SLT (social learning theory) and:

            1) learning through direct experience

            2) learning through vicarious experience

            3) reinforcement

  • Must mention all the highlighted words
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Social learning theory believes that aggression in humans is the product of learning. They claim aggressive behaviour is learned through direct experience or by observing others.

  • Learning by direct experience- This is taken fron Skinner's principles of reinforcement. For example, if a child pushes another child off a swing and as a result gets the swing (reward) they action is reinforced and they are more likely to reproduce such behaviours again.
  • Learning by vicarious experience- (watching others) This is a form of indirect learning. If a child sees another gaining rewards from aggressive behaviours/ actions they may imitate this.
  • Reinforcement- For a behaviour to be imitated it must be rewarding in some way and so, it is reinforced.
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Name and explain 5 synoptic evaluation points for SLT (social learning theory of aggression).

(HINT: determinism, reductionism, individual differences, alternative explanations - Dollard & imposed etic)

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Determinism - SLT doesn't take into account the fact that people may analyse the implications of aggressive behaviours and so, choose not to do them. SLT assumes that people will passively observe behaviour and imitate it without logical thought and doesn't consider the role of 'free will' - therefore isn't a complete explanation for aggression

Reductionism - (does explain aggression as a result of MIRRORVID, but...) SLT ignores the role of biological factors and doesn't take into account individual differences dues to gentetic/ brain/ learning differences. It ignores evidence that may suggest a biological/ genetic component to human aggression - is reductionist and incomplete

Individual Differences - SLT ignores an individual's biological factors and differences (genetic/brain/learning) - these differences may affect validity of findings - links to reductionism

Alternative explanations (Dollard, 1936) - Dollard et al suggested that aggressive behavior isn't due to imitation alone. Instead, aggression is the result of frustration building up and the presence of environmental cues that signal aggressiveness - contradicts SLT - not a complete explanation

Imposed etic - SLT is an American theory - may not apply to other cultures as they may behave differently - imposed etic - to avoid this create an emic approach

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  • Define 'deindividuation' according to Hogg & Vaughan (2008) & give a brief description
  • Explain how deindividuation can lead to acts of aggression

(HINT: in crowds, public self-awareness & private self-awareness)


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Deindividuation is a social psychological explaination for aggression. When people lose their sense of identity they lose responsibility for their actions and become anonymous. Hogg & Vaughan (2008) described it to be ''a process whereby people lose their sense of socialised individual identity and engage in unsocialised, often anti-social behaviours''.

  • In crowds restraints on aggressive behaviours become more relaxed, and you become anonymous. Therefore, there is less fear of guilt/ shame and retribution (consequences of actions). In a group people may lose self-focus and become less privately self-aware so become less reliant on internal morals and attitudes.
  • Public self-awareness = concern about impression on others, is reduced by anonimity.
  • Private self-awareness = concern we have for our own thoughts and feelings, can be reduced by becoming in an activity we are consumed by and so we 'forget' ourselves.
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  • Explain Dodd (1985) study into deindividuation


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Dodd (1985) asked students to respond anonymously to the question:

''If you could be totally invisible for 24 hours and were completely assured that you would not be detected or held responsible for your actions, what would you do?''

The average number of anti-social responses was 36% (same percentage gained from inmates at a maximum security prison).

Therefore suggests that anonymity and deindividuation can lead to aggression.

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  • Explain the Stanford Prison Experiment into deindividuation by Zimbardo (1973)


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  • 24 University students,PPT's volunteered after seeing an advert which promised payment they were randomly split into two groups - prisoners and guards
  • They were blindfolded and bought into jail one at a time and greeted by the warden who confirmed their status as prisoners/ guards
  • Guards wore khaki uniforms with whistles and clubs, prisoners were given numbers instead of names and a white uniform, Guards were required to make prisoners feel scared and humiliated by ********* and delousing them
  • Guards they mocked prisoners and stood on their backs while they did sit ups and sprayed them with fire extinguishers & attacked them at night
  • Prisoners tried to rebel and barracked their door shut. Aggressive behaviours became dangerous, one suffered from emotional psychological damage and became unhealthy - ending the experiment
  • Deindividuation can happen quickly and does result in aggressive behaviours
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  • Name and explain 3 synoptic evaluation points for Dodd's research into deindividuation & aggression

  • Name and explain 3 synoptic evaluation points for Zimbardo's research into deindividuation & aggression

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Dodd (1985)

  • Sample - students used in research - specialist group - unrepresentative of population - can't be generalised to others - lacks population validity
  • Unable to differentiate (Aggression vs Anti-social) - '36% of responses were anti-social' - how do we define things as anti-social rather than aggresive? anti-social isn't necessarily aggressive (e.g- graffiti) - lacks validity
  • Deindividuation support - shows that anonymity results in aggression

Zimbardo (1973)

  • Ethics - deception (unaware they would be arrested), harm (one prisoner experienced psychological harm - don't follow BPS code of ethics
  • Sample - '24 college students' - small sample& canadian - can't generalise - unrepresentative - lacks population validity
  • Deindividuation support - after the prisoners became anonymous (uniforms & numbers) - increase in aggression - deindividuation is valid
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  • What are chromosomes?
  • What is a genotype?
  • What are karyotypes? How do they relate to aggression?
  • Explain the XXY theory

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  • Chromosomes- are things which make up your genetic coding in your DNA
  • Genotype- the structuring of a cell which can transfer genetic disorders through inheritance (e.g. aggression)
  • Karyotype- karyotypes refer to the appearance and number of different strands with chromosomes. In relation to aggression, it is believed that 2 Y chromosomes with in your DNA makes you more susceptible to aggressive behaviour.
  • It has been believed that aggression within males is to do with excess levels of testosterone. However, more recently the XXY theory has become more accepted. The theory explains that males who contain 2 Y strands within their DNA are more likely to display aggressive behaviors.
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  • Explain supporting research for XXY theory

(HINT: case study or 8 year old)

  • What is the main limitation of research into genetics and aggression? How could this issue be solved/ concluded? (very important question)

(HINT: reductionist/ diathesis-stress)

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  • Case study of 8 year old boy with 47 XXY karyotype - he was admitted into a ward due to aggressive behaviors endangering himself and others. His levels of aggression were high and he was unresponsive to several medications. Supports XXY theory - '47 XXY karyotype' and he is extremely aggressive 'endangering himself and others'
  • One limitation is reductionism.The complex idea of aggression is reduced and the role of other factors such as biochemisty, neuroantaomy and the environment are not considered - therefore it is an incomplete explaination.
  • One solution/ conclusion to the issue of reductionism is the diathesis-stress explanation. The explanation suggests that both a biological predisposition (XXY karyotype) and the environment stressors are important. Therefore it is a more complete explanation.
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  • Name and explain at least 5 synoptic evaluation points for genetic factors and aggression.

(HINT: reductionism, population validity, nature/nuture (twins), androcentrism, Theilgaard, 1984 contradiction, ethics & objectivity)


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  • Explain the 'gene' for aggression MAOA
  • Explain Lagerspetz (1979) animal research
  • Explain MZ & DZ twins and outline Berkowitz's research

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I think these are fabulous!

Katie Booth





I'm judging you.

Rebecca Meredith





thanks alottt. haven't fully read everything. i'm just about to print. thank you soo much

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