How research by Bandura and colleagues on social learning and aggression has contributed to our understanding of how children behave.
The “Bobo Doll Experiments” carried out by Bandura and colleagues *
Some of the possible mechanisms involved in social learning *
Limitations of Bandura’s research
Relevance to modern day
In the early 1960s, Albert Bandura, Dorothea Ross and Sheila Ross conducted an experiment to investigate how children would copy aggressive behaviour that they witnessed others perform on a Bobo doll, and what factors might affect the level of imitative aggressive acts. Bandura ‘predicted that in certain conditions children were likely to imitate aggressive acts that they had observed.’ (Bandura et al. 1963). This phenomenon is known as social learning.
Three groups of children viewed a model behaving aggressively towards the bobo doll; group one viewed a real life model, group two a filmed live model and group three viewed a filmed cartoon model. Group four did not view any aggressive behaviour towards a bobo doll. Bandura and colleagues made sure that the number of children, their gender and prior aggressive tendencies were equal in each group so that only the only difference in each condition was the variation they manipulated. They also found it fitting to alternate the gender of the model equally to eliminate the possibility this would affect the results.
The results of this experiment revealed that children’s behaviour was affected by observation of violent acts towards a bobo doll, and that the influence varied according to the different conditions, such as gender of both the child and observed model.
The research carried out by Bandura, Ross and Ross into social learning allowed us to identify some mechanisms, described as ‘the process or set of processes that underpin a particular psychological phenomenon, such as social learning.’ (Brace...
References: Bandura, A., Ross, D. and Ross, S.A. (1963) ‘Imitation of film-mediated aggressive models’, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, vol. 66, no. 1, p 3-11.
Berkowitz, L. (1993) Aggression: Its causes, Consequences, and Control, New York, NY, McGraw Hill
Brace, N. and Byford, J. (2012) Investigating Psychology, Oxford, Oxford University Press/Milton Keynes, The Open University.
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