• Created by: Abby
  • Created on: 18-05-11 17:56

Social psychological approaches to explaining aggression:
Social Psychological theories:
Social learning theory originated from the work of Gabriel Tarde (1912), He argued that the key characteristics of imitation were:

·       The behaviour of role models

·       The degree of contact with role model

·       the copying of the behaviour of those of a higher status

·       The degree of understanding of the behaviour

For Tarde, these were ways in which our Social Behaviour and responses could be shaped by the actions of others.
Bandura's Social learning theory (1963), He used both social psychology and cognitive psychology in his social cognitive perspective of human behaviour, he thought that behaviour was based on inherent psychological factors as well as socio-environmental factors. He thought Social learning theory had four basic processes:

·       Attention

·       Retention

·       Reproduction

·       Motivation

The central part of these processes was the presence of a role model, who seems similar to the child or is in a position of power, also necessary was the child needed to have a level of self-confidence that allowed them to copy the behaviour, he called this self-efficacy. Supporting his theory was his well known 'Bobo doll study':
Bandura, Ross and Ross (1962)
72 participants were used with equal numbers of boys and girls, half the participants in the experimental groups were exposed to as aggressive model and the other half a non-aggressive model. Also a control group of 24 went through without watching an adult role model. The child entered a playroom and the aggressive adult role model began to use physical and verbal violence on the bobo doll with a play construction set, in the non-aggressive condition the adult role model simply ignored the bobo doll and played with the construction set. The role model left and the child was left to play with both aggressive and non-aggressive toys while Bandura observed. The children watching the aggressive role model were generally more likely to show aggressive behaviour themselves, boys tended to be more aggressive if role model was male, this trend also existed in females but not so significantly, perhaps a reason why boys are generally thought of as more aggressive.
Using a lab meant there was environmental continuity for each child, however due to its artificial nature it lacked realism. What is more, Bobo dolls are designed  for a more aggressive behaviour which could have influenced the children. Although names were kept confidential, various videos of this experiment can be found freely which comprises the confidentiality of this study somewhat in addition the children were unaware they were being filmed and it is unlike that Bandura obtained full parental/guardian consent prior to the study.

·       This study helps explain why children may copy and has face validity through explaining how role models behaviour can be copied E.G. The case of Jamie Bulger

·       Social Learning theory can be applied to other antisocial areas E.G. Burgess and Akers (1966)


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