Social-Psychological theories of aggression

Social Learning Theory and Deindividuation Theory

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Marie
  • Created on: 23-05-09 14:37


- SLT suggest that we learn the specifics of aggressive behaviour (the forms it takes and the targets toward which it is directed) by observing others

A02: Supported by... BANDURA and WALTERS (1963), who found that children who watched an adult being rewarded for behaving aggressively showed a high level of imitative aggression later.

A02: This shows that... aggressive behaviour is encouraged by rewards and discouraged by punishment.

A01: The process of Social Learning: How is aggressive behaviour learned?

  • OBSERVATION: Child learn aggressive behaviour by watching and imitating role models with whom they identify. They also learn the consequences of aggressive behaviour through vicarious reinforcement.
  • MENTAL REPRESENTATION: Children form mental representations of events in their social environment, together with expectancies of the likely outcomes of aggressive behaviour.
1 of 4

A02: Supported by... BANDURA (1965), who found that children who were given a reward for performing a model's behaviour were all able to reproduce that behaviour.

A02: This shows that... learning occurs regardless of reinforcement, but production of a behaviour is related to selective reinforcement,

A01: Production of behaviour: Under what circumstances is aggressive behaviour produced?

  • MAINTENANCE THROUGH DIRECT EXPERIENCE: A child may be directly reinforced for aggressive behaviour, which increases the value of aggressive behaviour for that child.
  • SELF-EFFICACY EXPECTANCIES: Children vary in the degree to which they have confidence in their ability to carry out aggressive actions successfully.


  • Strengths: SLT can explain the difference between individuals (i.e. cultural variations) and within individuals (selective reinforcement and context-dependent learning)
  • Limitations: SLT is not a complete explanation of aggression because it does not explain the impulse to aggress.
2 of 4


- A state of deindiviuation arises when people lose their sense of individuality, leading to reduced self-restraint and an increase in deviant and impulsuve behaviour

A02: Research Support for deindividuation comes from HANEY et al.'s (1973) prison simulation study and Zimbardo's (1969) laboratory study.

A01: Individuated and deindividuated behaviour

People refrain from aggressive behaviour because of social norms and risk of identification. In a crowd, anonymity reduces these restraints and increases behaviours that are usually inhibited.

A02: Normative rather than anti-normative

POSTMES and SPEARS' meta analysis (1998) showed that deindividuation doesn't always lead to anti-normative behaviour, but may lead to increase in compliance.

3 of 4

A01: The faceless crowd

Being part of a crowd can diminsh both awareness of individuality and fear of negative evaluation of our actions

A01: Reduced self-awareness

Recent formulations of deindividuation theory focus on the importance of reduced private self-awareness (becoming less self-aware) rather than reduced public self-awareness (simply being anonymous to the others)

A02: This can be applied to:

An explanation of aggression in football crowds.
Experiments have show that aggression is reduced using mirrors and video cameras: this increase private self-awareness

4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Aggression resources »