SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY
Originated from the work of Gabriel Tarde (1912), who argued that the key characteristics of imitation were:
-The behaviour of role models
-Copying those of a higher status
-The degree of contact with the role mode
-The degree of understanding of the behaviour.
-Combines the logic of both social and cognitive psychology in his ‘social cognitive explanation of human behaviour’.
-He argued that both the individual and the social environment are linked and this became known as ‘reciprocal determinism’.
-The four basic processes of the social learning theory are attention, retention, reproduction and motivation.
-A central part of these processes is the presence of a role model who is usually similar to the child or in a position of power.
-Self-efficacy is also important, as the child needs to have some level of self-confidence in order to imitate.
-Support for this comes from the Bobo doll study by Bandura, Ross and Ross (1961), who exposed half of the children to an aggressive scenario, and found that these children were more likely to show aggressive behaviour towards the bobo doll.
-The gender of the role model also had a significant influence and the boys with an aggressive male role model showed the most aggression.
-There were many issues with this study, e.g. artificial, lacks ecological validity, demand characteristics.
Evaluation points and other studies:
-The SLT helps to explain why people may copy, and a real life example comes from the Jamie Bulger case, as the boys had recently watched ‘Child’s Play’.
-The SLT is deterministic as it suggests that people passively imitate without logical thought.
-Runciman (1966) suggested that aggressive behaviour is due to relative deprivation (perceived difference between what you have and what you think you should have).
-Dollard et al (1939) said that it is not due to imitation, but due to frustration (frustration aggression hypothesis).
-Stack (1987) said that adults also learn from modelling and used the idea that suicides in New York increased after Marilyn Monroe’s death.
-William’s (1981) found that aggression increased after the introduction of TV in a remote Canadian community.
-This is decreased self-assessment and awareness where identification of an individual is difficult. This can cause a change in normal behaviour.
-Singer, Brush and Lublin (1965) found increased contributions in a discussion of *********** when individuality was reduced.
-Zimbardo suggested that other factors such as sensory overload, altered states of consciousness due to drugs/alcohol, decreased responsibility and levels of arousal could cause anti social behaviour.
-Zimbardo (1969) showed the effect of reduced inhibitions on aggression. He conducted a Milgram-style experiment on female undergraduates in a ‘study of learning’. Half wore lab coats and has their faces covered whilst the other half wore nametags. The deindividuated participants gave twice as many shocks.
-Diener et al (1976) looked at 1,300 trick-or-treating children in a naturalistic observation and found that children showed more antisocial behaviour when wearing a costume.