- Based on the principles of behaviourism. Both state that behaviour that is rewarded will consequently be learnt, however the difference between the two is that with behaviourism the behaviour has to be directly experienced by the person, whereas with SLT it can be learnt through observation or VICARIOUS LEARNING. Therefore seeing someone else being rewarded from a certain behaviour will influence someone to imitate it.
Bandura argues that..... (A01)
That 4 main principles are involved in SLT; Attention – how much attention you pay to person displaying behaviour Retention – storing the behaviour witnessed Reproduction – copying the behaviour Motivation – having an incentive to imitate the behaviour (this can be real or imagined) The role model may be a person you admire, eg a parent, older sibling, friends etc Similarity to the role model is also important, you are more likely to admire someone of the same sex, age etc.
For behaviour to be imitated it must first be seen to be rewarded, then the expectation of gaining a reward should be present. If when the child copies a behaviour and the reward does live up to expectations, then it will be repeated, if the reward falls short of the expectation or is punished it will be extinguished. Bandura argues that the child will form a mental representation of observed behaviour and its rewards/punishments, theses thoughts represent a cognitive element of the theory. Rewards can take many forms – they can be physical (e.g. Money or goods) or psychological (e.g. Admiration or respect)
Argument was based on the findings of experiments
Bandura et al; 72 male + female children aged 3-5 were divided into 2 experimental groups, but took part individually. Condition 1 – aggressive condition, children observed a model showing verbal and physical aggression towards a bobo doll Condition 2 – non aggressive- the model showed more docile behaviour towards doll Ppts were put into a frustrating situation by being shown toys and being told they weren't allowed to play with them. They were then taken into a room with a bobo doll and toys which the could play with
Children in the aggressive condition copied much of the behaviour from the model they saw behaving aggressively Children in the non aggressive condition showed almost no aggressive behaviour at all. Evaluation High reliability – lab experiment do controlled variables and can be easily repeated. Demand characteristics – lower IV – were they copying role model or doing what's expected of them? One child was heard saying to their mother ‘there's the doll we have to hit’ IV is further reduced as the doll encourages this behaviour anyway, its purpose it to be hit. EV may be reduced, as the children may not act the same towards a human.
Evaluation of SLT - Positive points
Positive points – Helps explain why children copy behaviour, it has face validity as children copy behaviour all the time. It explains cultural differences – wolfgang and ferracuti argued that societies and subcultures have different models of aggressive/non aggressive behaviour, which are then observed by the child as a norm. Explains individual differences, eg diff people have diff role models and/or received diff consequences to their behaviour. SLT has been applied to areas other than aggression showing for example the power of role models in the media which has resulted in an increase in anorexia and bulimia The theory has empirical support from the bobo doll study
It does not account for novel acts of aggression that are not copied It does not explain where feelings of anger/aggression come from that don’t result in specific behaviour. where do the feelings arise from? Dolard for example argued that aggressive behaviour is caused by feelings of frustration. Though there is strong empirical support for the theory (bobo dolls) there are many issues with the study. (low external validity etc) Debate – SLT is a cognitive theory that attempts to explain that behaviour that is rewarded will be copied and therefore learned and repeated. This presents a deterministic debate, as it implies that aggressive behaviour is determined by the behaviour of the role model and if behaviour is rewarded. However there is an element of free will with the theory as it is cognitive, meaning that people will behave how they choose to which reduces the effectiveness of the theory. Application – If aggressive behaviour is caused by learnt behaviour, then it should be possible to give children positive role models and reduce levels of aggressive behaviour in society. However, aggressive behaviour still seems to be prominent in society, thereby reducing effectiveness of the theory further. A testable hypothesis can be formed by observing the behaviour of children and comparing it with their role models