Evaluation of a Social Psychological Theory of Aggression Essay

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Evaluation of a Social Psychological Theory of Aggression

One of the most influential approaches to aggression is the social learning theory approach, put forward by Albert Bandura. According to this approach, most behaviour including aggressive behaviour is learned. Albert Bandura believed that aggression is learned through a process called behaviour modelling. He argued that individuals, especially children learn aggressive responses from observing others, either personality or through the media and environment. He stated that many individuals believed that aggression would produce reinforcements. These reinforcements can formulate into reduction of tension, gaining financial rewards, or gaining
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He believed environmental experiences also had an influence on the social learning of violence in children. He reported that individuals that lived in high crime rate areas were more likely to act violently than those who lived in low crime areas. He also believed television was a source of behaviour modelling. Today films and television shows illustrate violence graphically. Violence is often expressed as an acceptable behaviour. Since aggression is a prominent feature of many shows, children who have a high amount of exposure to the media may show a high degree of hostility themselves in imitation of the aggression they have witnessed.

Bandura carried out a study on aggressive behaviour towards the Bobo doll. In the first stage of the study, children who had observed an adult model attack a Bobo doll were divided into three groups. Group 1 went straight into the playroom; Group 2 saw the model being rewarded for their aggression against the doll, while group 3 saw the adult model punished. In the second stage of the study, after the children had played with the doll, all the children were offered rewards to behave as the adult model had done.

The results showed, in the first stage of the, group 3 children showed significantly less aggressive behaviour towards the dolls than group 1 and 2. In the second stage of the study, there was no difference between the groups in the
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