Discuss two social psychological theories of aggression

1629 WordsMar 13, 20147 Pages
Discuss two social psychological theories of aggression (24 marks) One social psychological theory of aggression is social learning theory. SLT argues that like all behaviour, aggression is learned through both direct and indirect reinforcement. Behaviour which is reinforced, be that positively or negatively – positive reinforcement occurs when the behaviour causes desired outcomes, negative reinforcement occurs when the behaviour causes undesirable outcomes - is more likely to be learned and repeated. Operant conditioning states that learning the behaviour occurs through direct reinforcement, for example if a child cleans their room and is given some sweets (positive reinforcement) or when a child cleans their room so their parent stops…show more content…
Many said that when they were in the experiment they felt that they were expected to act aggressively towards the bobo doll. On the other hand, social learning theory does allow us to explain the enormous cultural variations of aggression. SLT can account for these variations as it places value on social norms. This explains society such as the Amish where there is very little aggression as it indicates the importance of learning over biology. Secondly, through context-dependent learning, SLT accounts for why people may be aggressive in one situation and yet not in another, as we learn that while in some situations aggressive behaviour is rewarded, we also learn that in others it is not. Patterson et al found evidence in favour of social learning theory within his research into the importance of role models in the development of anti-social behaviour. Through questionnaires they found that very aggressive children tend to be raised in homes of high aggression, little affection and little positive feedback. Also, Mead found that the Arapesh (an example of a non-aggressive culture in which aggression is not admired and therefore not modelled or reinforces by adults. However, social learning theory is criticised for being both reductionist and over simplistic in its attempt to explain aggression. It is reductionist as it attempts to break down complex human behaviour into a series of four processes – Attention, Retention, Production and
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