Social Psychological Theories of Aggression

Theories, IDA's, general eval

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  • Created by: shauna
  • Created on: 26-12-11 17:04

Social Learning Theory (Bandura, '63')

  • Extension of learning theory adds element of Vicarious learning:learning by observation and imitation (of role model)
  • Role models central to this model. Imitation more likely to occur if model is similar in age or gender, has desirable characteristics e.g power, aggressive conduct awarded.
  • E.g Older sister throws tantrum gets what she wants. Younger sibling models this behaviour, so as to achieeve similar results.
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Study (Bandura et al, Bobo Doll '63')

  • Support for influence of Vicarious learning on aggression comes form Bandura et al's Bobo doll study, found children exposed to aggressive models behaved significantly more aggressively towards doll than other groups. Role models gender had significant effect. Same gender more likely to be imitated.

Scientific: Bandura's theory based on empirical scientific evidence.Highly testable.

Bobo doll invites aggression designed to be hit.

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De-Individuation Theory (Zimabrdo '69')

  • De-individuation is state of decreased self evaluation when identification is difficult
  • Individual less likely to behave aggressively when identifying them is easy.
  • In crowds, loss of individual identity = anti social behaviour
  • Large crowd = More anonymity, therefore less guilty, less accountable for actions, fear public disaproval less.

Public self-awareness: individuals sense of being visible to others. When personal visibility is reduced, more inclined to behave aggressively.

Private self-awareness: individuals awareness of their own actions, inner thoughts and feelings. In a crowd people tend to 'forget themselves.' due to focusing on things happening around them They tend to act on impulse and become less rational. Go along with what others do as they are unable to think of their own accord. E.g in gangs people succumb to peer pressure.

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Cue Arousal Theory (Berkowitz and Le page ,'67')

  • Dollard et al propsed Frustration = Aggression

Individual attempts to attain goal   Goal blocked   Frustration   Aggression

  • Berkowitz and Le Page suggested that there must be a cue or stimulus to trigger aggressive behaviour.
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Relative Deprivation Theory (Berkowitz '72')

  • Supports frustration-aggrssion hypothesis as it claims deprivation = frustration = aggression
  • It is however subjective as one persons poverty is anothers reasonable standard of living.
  • Help explain possible causes of riots and social unrest. (e.g 2011 London riots )
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(I) Social Learning Approach

(J) Aggression influenced by environmental factors

(I/A) Practical Applications: If children imitate role models, TV can influence aggression thus parents should control programmes they watch certain cartoon seem to promote violence.

Help identify what may instigate or fuel social unrest, riots mass diplays of violence. Help in developing better tactics to stop spread of aggression durin riots. Lessen anonymity by dispersing crowds.

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(J) Aggression is sensitive area

(I/A) Care taken when publishing findings. Anonymity important.

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(I) Oversimplistic

(J) simplifies complexity of aggression

(I/A) Aggression not purely learnt, hormones can affect it. In Baundura's study boys found to be more aggressive than girls regardless of group.

(I) Determinist

(J) aggression determined by past experiences

(I/A) fails to explain circumstances where de-indivduation leads to high levels of pro-social behaviour e.g at religious festivals.

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Study (Zimbardo, '69')

  • Support for de-individuation from Zimbardo who found shocks delivered by hooded group of women more severe.Concealment of identity lead to them possibly feeling less remorse.

Unethical: Deliverance of shocks

  • Plus Watson found that in societies where warriors changed appearance, they were more destructive.

Correlational: Cannot establish cause and effect.

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