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Social Learning Theory of Aggression
Transcript of Social Learning Theory of Aggression
The Process of SLT
observe and pay attention to what the model is doing, more likely when they are of higher status, more power and similarity to the person
how much you concentrate on the model showing the behaviour
retaining/storing the behaviour they have observed
copying the behaviour you have witenssed from the model
expecting to recieve positive reinforcement from it e.g. through rewards
having a good reason for showing the witnessed behaviour
Social Learning Theory
When there is similarity between the model and the observer
If the model is charismatic/personable
If it results in a reward
If the task to be imitated is not too difficult or too easy
If the observer has a low sense of self-efficacy
Gender of the role mode
Status of the role model - more likelihood of coping of the behaviour of those of a higher status
Bandura's Social Learning Theory
Factors Influencing Imititating Behaviour
Methodological issues = uses laboratory-based experiment and due to its artificial setting, it lacked relaism when compared to real life - lacks ecological validity
The experiment was only performed in one cultural setting so other potential cultural influences were ignored
Demand characteristics = the desire on the part of the child to 'please the experimenter' as children pften wish to please adults. Also Bobo was a toy originally made for punching and knowledge of this could have further influenced their behaviour
Ehtical issues = selected films of the behaviour are widely available on the internet suggesting a comprimose of confidentiality. Children didn't know they were being films so there is a lack of informed consent - unlikely Bandura had fully informed consent of the children's parents.
Bandura’s theory falls foul of the criticism of imposed etic, this suggests that observational learning occurs in the same way across all countries and cultures i.e. being universal
Although Bandura was aware of potential biological factors influencing aggressive behaviour, he never gave them the academic attention that they deserved. For example, some authorities would argue that aggressive behviour could be linked to genetic, bio-chemical or neuro-anatomical causes
Runciman (1966) raises a valid issue that challenges Bandura's explanation - they suggest that it is possible that aggerssive behviour might be shown due to one's relative deprivation and the perceived difference between what you have and what you think you should have
Dollard et al (1939) suggested that aggressive behaviour is not due to imitation alone and according to them, aggression is the result of frustration building up (psychoanalysis) and the presence of environmental cues (behviourism) that signal aggressiveness
Bandura (1963) combines the logic of both social and cognitive psychology in his 'social cognitvive perspective' of human behaviour
Bandura considered that behviour is motivated not only by inherent psychological factors, but also by socio-environmental
He argued that the individual and the social environment were linked, he called this reciprocal determinism
A major strength of SLT is the role of vicarious learning. Unlike operant conditioning theory, it can explain aggressive behaviour in absence of direct reinforcement. Although Bandura’s (1963) participants behaved more aggressively after observing an aggressive model, there was no direct reward to the children for any action, either aggressive or non-aggressive. This shows that the concept of vicarious learning is necessary to explain the findings
Another strength of this theory is that it can explain difference in aggressive and non-aggressive behaviour both between and within individuals. Differences within individuals can be related to selective reinforcement and context-dependant learning. People respond differently in different situations because they have observed that aggression is rewarded in some situations and not others, i.e. they learn behaviours that are appropriate to particular contexts.
Another support of this theory is that Bandura’s theory helps us to explain why children might copy behaviour. The theory has face validity through its explanation of how the behaviour of role models such as television personalities and pop starts can be imitated. An example of this is seen in Jamie Bulger, the 2 year old who was murdered by two boys aged 10 and 11 as a result of them watching ‘Child’s Play 3’. This shows real life examples how observational or social learning of aggression occurs and also the media’s huge influence on children’s learning
Also another strength is that the social learning theory can be applied towards adult’s aggressive behaviour. Phillips (1986) found that daily homicide rates in the US almost always increased in the week following a major boxing match. This highlights that viewers imitate the behaviour they are watching, the violence in boxing matches, and suggesting that social learning is evident in adults as well as children.
The social learning theory has been applied to other antisocial areas/behaviour. For example in Burgess and Akers (1966) used social learning theory to explain deviancy.
Research supporting the social learning theory comes from studies carried out by Bandura, Ross and Ross (1961), who conducted the original Bobo doll study. 72 children were allocated to one of the 3 groups; one group saw an aggressive role model, one saw a non-aggressive role model and the third group was a control group who saw no role model. Results showed that the children observing the aggressive role model imitated the aggressive behaviour, especially if the children observed a role model who was the same gender or was rewarded.