Social Psychological approaches to explaining Aggression

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  • Created by: Zoe
  • Created on: 16-12-12 18:18

Social Learning Theory

The main assumptions of this theory is that these key factors are used to explain aggression, these are:

  • the power of imitation
  • the loss of personal identity
  • situational factors
  • the percieved inequalities between what a person has and what they think they should rightfully have
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Bandura's Social Learning Theory

Bandura (1961) - Orginal Study

  • 72 children participants were used, then were grouped in conditions described.
  • Half of groups were exposed to aggressive model whereas the other half a non-aggressive model.
  • Used a Bobo doll to portray some form of imitation by using adult role models to either act aggressively or non-aggressively towards the bobo doll to see the impact of imitation.
  • The childrens behaviour was observed.
  • Findings: they found the children who witnessed the aggressive role models behaviour was more likely to show aggression towards the bobo doll.
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Evaluation of Bandura's Study

Strengths of Bandura's Study

  • The theory helps us to explain why children may copy role models.
  • The theory has face validity (ie. it is true at face value) through its explanation of how the ebhaviour of role models such as television personalities and pop stars which can be imitated.
  • Real life application that can be applied to this theory is the James Bulger incident which was contributed by imitation and the media.
  • Bandura's research focussed society's attention to the power that the media can have not just in aggression but in other related areas.

Weaknesses of Bandura's Study

  • Suffers from imposed etic - when a researcher imposes their idea and assumes that thier view is appropriate irrespective of cultural differences. He assumes that processes of learning are the same for all people in all countries and cultures.
  • Can be seen as deterministic
  • Does not consider a biological aspect of the aggression. (ie. genetics)
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Deindividuation is when decresed awareness in situations where identification of an individual is difficult if not impossible.Any situation where individual identification is restricted ensures that changes in the normal standards of behaviour aggression.

For example: A child with a power rangers mask on is deindividuated.

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Key Study that can support the idea of Deindividua

Diener (1976)

  • Conducted a naturalistic observation of 1,300 trick or treating children.
  • He noted that when the children were in large groups and wearing costumes that meant their identity could not be revealed, therefore more likely to perform anti-social behaviour.
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Another Study Supporting Deindividuation

 Zimbardo (1969) Electric shocks (no shock was really administrated.) Half wore hoods that covered their faces, also weren't referred to their name. Other half wore normal clothes and wore name tags to reveal their identity.

Hooded group = gave twice as many shocks

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Evaluation Points of Deindividuation

  • Some researchers suggest that the groups affects the individuals thinking and action.
  • Other researchers suggest that the individual simply follows group norms.
  • The deindividuation theory of aggression is compatible with social learning theory.
  • Crowd behaviour can sometimes be positive and non-aggressive, e.g. a pop concertwhich is a positive experience and usually non-violent
  • De-individuation theory has stated that when we are in a group or crowd, our social norms& values are undermined. However, contradictory research findings have suggested thatwhen in a group or crowd, there are strong norms & values that operate that will have animpact on every individual. Usually this is in the form of whereby all members must act ina certain way in a group in order to be accepted.
  • Biological theorists would state that de-individuation will not be displayed by all groups of  people and it depends on personality and individual differences.
  • De-individuation can be supported by the idea of British  football hooliganism, this would agree with the faceless crowd acting in an anti social way
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Cue Arousal

Cue arousal – this is when there is a “cue” or “stimulus” to spark aggressive behaviour. For example...

“if your carrying a knife as self-defence you may be more inclined to use it if you thought it was necessary.”

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Relative Deprivation

 A theory developed from Holvland and Sears (1940)” it is the difference between two groups, it is the concept that one groups got what the other group hasn't therefore causes of the build up of jealously then aggressive acts. Example: London riots (2011) – Real life application to link to. There is two types of relative deprivation:

  • Egoistic relative deprivation: Individual compares him/herself with another similar individual. Relative deprivation may be sensed if the other individual is perceived to enjoy more privileges.
  • Fraternalistic relative deprivation: Individual compares his/her group with another group. Relative deprivation may be sensed if the other group is perceived to enjoy more privileges.
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Evaluating Relative Deprivation

Some problems with relative deprivation theory:

1. Aggression can be caused by factors other than frustration, such as social learning.

2. Frustration may lead to other behaviours, such as depression or despair.

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