Social Learning Theory

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  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 11-12-12 14:25

Social Learning Theory (SLT)

Social Learning theory (SLT) assumes that aggression is learned and reinforced through observation and imitation of role models. This reinforcement can be direct (e.g. a child behaves in an aggressive way because s/he has previously been rewarded in some way for that behaviour), or indirect/vicarious (a child sees a role model being rewarded for aggressive behaviour). A child is likely to imitate an aggressive role model if they are the same sex, same age, of high status in their mind, and likable. The stages of role modelling entail attention to the model's aggression, retention of a memory of that aggression, reproduction of the aggression and motivation to reproduce the aggression, due to reinforcement

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SLT of aggression is illustrated in Banura's Bobo doll study. Different groups of young children watched adult role models playing with building sets, but some of the children then saw the role model being aggressive towards a Bobo doll. When the children where later allowed to play with a range of toys, including the Bobo doll, those who had observed the aggressive model showed more aggression towards the Bobo doll than the other children. Also the children that showed more aggression late experiemented aggression with a toy gun and the others did not.

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SLT suggests children observe and imitate aggression in their parents, peers, TV, in films and in computer games. For example, after the footballer Cantona's infamous Kung Fu kick, many children were seen imitating that behaviour in the playground. A more recent example of SLT in action is the aggression involve in the 2011 London riots... SLT thus suggests a child will behave aggressively when they are rewarded for that aggression.

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