Albert developing the social learning theory and conducting

Bandura is a well-known social and cognitive psychologist. He is known for developing
the social learning theory and conducting his bobo doll experiments. The social
learning theory states that children learn behaviour by observing and imitating
others around them. Bandura, Ross and Ross conducted a lab experiment in order
to investigate the effect of observing social behaviours such as aggression on

They used
36 boys and 36 girls from the Stanford University Nursery School aged between 3
to 6 years old for their experiment. Before the experiment they tested the children
for how aggressive they were by observing the children in the nursery and
judged their aggressive behaviour which was recorded on four 5-point rating
scales. The design of the experiment is matched pairs because they then divided
the children into groups according to their level of aggression. There were
three groups. The first group of 24 children were exposed to an aggressive
model showing aggression toward a doll. The second group of 24 children were
exposed to a non-aggressive model and the final group of 24 weren’t exposed to
any model which was the control condition. Bandura,
A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (1963)

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The result of this experiment showed that the group one
children who were exposed to and observed the aggressive model imitated the aggressive
behaviour and were much more aggressive than the non-aggressive group. Furthermore
the girls who were exposed to an aggressive model showed more physical aggression
if the model was male and more verbal if female. Therefore the results from
this study support the social learning theory as it proves that behaviour is imitated
through a model.

There are several
strengths of the Bobo doll experiment. Firstly it had many control variables such
as the gender used, the checklist categories of type of aggression and age of
the children observing the model. This is a strength of the experiment because
the results could be replicated as there was a standardised procedure and
control variables. This makes the experiment and the results gained from the
study reliable and can therefore be applied to the wider population.

Another strength is
that this study can be applied to media. This is because in movies and video
games violence is shown to be rewarded. For example in violent video games,
violent behaviour is rewarded by levelling up or receiving rewards for the
behaviour. This can therefore have a negative effect on the people playing or
watching the media as they will imitate the behaviour that is being rewarded. So
instead they should punish the aggressive and violent behaviour.

In addition to
this, the experiment had high inter-rater reliability as Bandura recorded the
procedure and results which allows other psychologists to observe the
experiment and it can be viewed by anyone, therefore other psychologists can
also check whether the results are reliable or not. The method used also had
high inter-rater reliability as there was more than one observer. Bandura used
a one way mirror to allow 2 observers to analyse the procedure of the
experiment and take notes down.

A limitation of the
study is that lab experiments could be considered unethical as it is being
conducted on children aged 3-6 and in the study the children are observing and
imitating aggressive behaviour. This could result in change of behaviour in the
children and can cause long term consequences for the children which is highly
unethical. However the observations of the behaviour are made almost
immediately therefore, we cannot be certain that the children will have long
term effects based on a single observation made of the child’s behaviour as it’s
a snapshot study.

Bandura, Ross and Ross used a doll in the experiment to observe the aggression
of the children. However, this does not reflect real life situations. Therefore
it is hard to conclude whether the child would imitate the aggression if it
were to take place within the family. This is therefore a limitation of the
method used because the ecological validity is low as it is difficult to
generalise the situation in real life. The experiment was conducted over a
short period of time, this is a limitation because it is difficult to find out
from the results if single exposure can have a long term effect.