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Social Learning Theory of Aggression. Halesowen College Psychology John Nordstrom. Objectives. Be able to describe terms associated with Social Learning theory Be able to outline, describe and evaluate the Social Learning Theory as it applies to aggression

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Social Learning Theory of Aggression


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    1. Social Learning Theory of Aggression Halesowen College Psychology John Nordstrom

    2. Objectives • Be able to describe terms associated with Social Learning theory • Be able to outline, describe and evaluate the Social Learning Theory as it applies to aggression • Be able to outline, describe and evaluate the Social Learning Theory in terms of strengths and weaknesses

    3. As we have discussed before, learning can come from our environment • If we can learn from our environment, aggression is a behaviour that can be learned

    4. Children can learn aggression from: • Their parents • Siblings • Neighbourhood • Television • Games • Films

    5. Eron (1995) • By the time children have entered secondary school they will have seen 8,000 murders and 100,000 violent acts on television

    6. Troseth (2003) • Even two year olds can be effected by what they see on television

    7. Model • Someone who is similar, powerful, friendly or caring • Mother to a daughter is similar, powerful and caring • Teacher to a student can be similar, powerful and caring

    8. Bandura (1977) • He identified four processes in social learning: • Attention – the model must be observed • Retention – the observer has to remember the behaviour being observed • Reproduction – the observer must be able to be capable of doing the behaviour seen • Motivation – the observer has to have a reason to reproduce the behaviour

    9. Vicarious reinforcement • When the observer has seen the model being rewarded for the behaviour • The observer is reinforced (an effect of operant conditioning – positive reinforcement)

    10. Evaluation • Strengths • There are several instances of support from research • Watch the video of Bandura’s research with children and the Bobo doll • Bobo Video

    11. Questions to ponder • Why did the children beat down on Bobo? • Do you think they thought they were supposed to? • Isn’t the toy fun? • Didn’t he teach them aggression? • Did they learn it from their environment? • Gender? Personality?

    12. Findings from research • In Bandura’s study they found boys who observed aggressive behaviour were more likely to be more physically aggressive than those that did not • Girls aggression was only rated higher in verbal aggression • Those who saw a non-aggressive model were even less aggressive than those who saw no model

    13. In a follow up study by Bandura et al (1963) he explored different types of models for children to observer. • A real life aggressive model with the Bobo • The same model performing as above but recorded on film • An aggressive cartoon character “Herman the Cat” • No model or film • It was found that the filmed model was the most effective in eliciting aggression

    14. Further reading and research • Eron et al (1972) • Eron and Huesmann (1986) • Joy et al (1986) • Charlton et al (2000) • Ehrensaft et al (2003) • Columbine High School tragedy (2001) • Hagell and Newbury (1984)

    15. Weaknesses • Behaviours are learned by watching others • Do we always repeat behaviours we watch others do? • It is possible that behaviours that are observed by children may not be demonstrated immediately

    16. Consequence • It is difficult to measure learning accurately and previous studies may be flawed

    17. Laboratory experiments • They are often artificial • This reduces the validity of the findings • The children in Bandura’s experiment may have hit the doll because they believed they were invited to do so

    18. In unfamiliar settings children will rationalize that they are meant to copy • Additionally, these studies raise serious ethical questions about exposing participants to aggression • These actions could effect their future behaviour

    19. Alternate explanations • Arousal • Temporary excitement when watching a programme • This explanation only supports short term changes and any physical effect would subside quickly • Anderson and Dill (2000)

    20. Desensitization • Repeated exposure results in decreased emotional reaction and loss of empathy • Vasquez and Clemente-Diaz (2000)

    21. There is a large amount of evidence which supports aggression in children who are exposed to a wide variety of aggressive material • Real life films have the largest effect • Cartoons do not tend to have the same effects • Weigh the strengths and weaknesses of the approach and ensure you have an equal seating of strengths and weaknesses from the research as well as the method used to conduct the research