Monday, 19 May 2014

Outline and evaluate one or more social psychological theories of aggression (8 + 16 marks) (Essay + Plan)

Okay. Here is my plan.

  • Outline SLT, describe mental representation, vicarious learning
  • Discuss Bobo doll study, it's variations and weaknesses
  • Discuss implications of the research, eg children's TV, ethical issues 
  • Outline Deindividuation
  • Briefly discuss local group norms
  • Discuss the implications, eg online no longer anonymous 
Here we goooooo....

Outline and evaluate one or more social psychological theories of aggression (8 + 16 marks)

The social learning theory offers an explanation as to how people (especially children still learning appropriate reactions to the world around them) can learn aggressive responses through observing other people, even without direct reinforcement. Vicarious reinforcement is the process by which a child will observe another person, someone they perhaps admire or empathise with, act in a certain way and be either positively reinforced or punished, and depending on the consequences the child will then imitate them. Through watching other people, children will learn when a behaviour is appropriate and its consequences in different situations. They will then create a mental representation of this behaviour, meaning they will imagine themselves acting in that way and anticipate the effects. If the anticipation of reward is higher than the anticipation of a punishment, the child is likely to intimidate the model and display the behaviour. The chances of the child imitating the behaviour are influenced by a few factors, the first being the age, gender and relation to the child the model was. If the model is a child's favorite TV star who they admire and want to be like, then it makes sense they are likely to imitate their behaviour. The second is past experiences with the behaviour. If the child has acted in a certain way before and been punished for it, they're not as likely to repeat it, and vice versa if they received a reward. 

Evidence for SLT was provided by the infamous Bobo doll study, which was carried out by Bandura. Nursery age children were split into two groups, one which observed adult models acting aggressively towards a bobo doll and the other who observed models acting non aggressively. The children were then frustrated, by being shown attractive toys that they were not allowed to play with, and led to a room with less attractive toys that included bobo dolls. It was observed that children in the aggressive condition acted a lot more aggressively towards the bobo dolls than those children in the non aggressive condition. 

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