Edexcel A2 - Criminal Psychology: Social Learning Theory

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  • Created by: Maria
  • Created on: 25-01-10 21:38

Social Learning Theory:

· The social learning theory explains how we learn potentially criminal behaviours from others. We learn aggressive or anti-social behaviour through vicarious reinforcement and modelling of role models. This theory also explains how we may learn anti-social or aggressive behaviour through the mass media. In order for us to be likely to imitate behaviours we must have paid attention to them, remembered them and be motivated to replicate them. Violent or anti-social behaviour often holds our attention and is likely to be remembered. If vicarious reinforcement occurs we then have the motivation to replicate the behaviour.

· Vicarious reinforcement occurs when we see someone behave in a particular way and get positively reinforced for it. We may then replicate that behaviour in order to receive the same positive reinforcement. So, for example we may see somebody act aggressively towards someone else and get approval from their peers. We are then more likely to replicate the aggressive behaviour to get approval from our peers. We may also replicate aggressive or anti-social behaviours when we see someone being negatively reinforced. For example, if someone attacked another person and this removed disapproval from peers, we too may engage in this behaviour as we feel that disapproval from our own peers would be removed.

· Another way in which we learn anti-social or aggressive behaviours is through the imitation of role models. Children in particular are likely to have a role model whom they look up to and aspire to be like. So, if they see this role model behaving anti-socially they are likely to imitate the modelled behaviour to be more like the role model. This can also





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