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Albert Bandura was especially interested in the connection between learning and aggression. Bandura believed that aggression is learned through a process called behavior modeling. Thus, instead of inheriting violent tendencies, humans observe and model aggressive behaviors. Bandura was particular interested in how children learn aggressive behaviors, he believe aggression in children is influenced by the reinforcement of family members, the media, and the environment. As a result, he created an experiment called Bobo Doll experiment to support his theory.

1961 The first experiment
Experiment (observation) as a research method

Bandura used social experiment: Bobo Doll
Goal - to explore the connection between observational learning and violent behavior in children.

36 boys and 36 girls, ranging from 3 to 6.

The children were exposed to different aggressive situations:

· Violent Adult Male
· Non-Violent Adult Male
· Violent Adult Female
· Non-Violent Adult Female
· Control group (no observations)

Then they were put in a room with tools to harm a Bobo doll


  • All adult models influenced the behavior of the children in all conditions
· Boys were always more aggressive than girls
· Male aggressive models were more of an influence for both boys and girls
· Boys were less aggressive after watching the female aggressive model that they were after watching the male aggressive model


· -Results are often used to explain and help school aggression
· -Used in criminology to explain how criminals learn their aggressive behaviors
· -Used in child therapy like dysfunctional therapy

· -Had control over the experiment, he was able to create and set his own environment and situation for the children to observe.
· -Easy to adjust for more accurate results; he was able to adjust the situation if anything went wrong. Or he was focusing on a specific area
· -Realistic because Bandura uses actual children in his experiment
· -Was able to graph and can easily compare different gender of children and see if they learn differently.

· -Vague, the results were not precise. It only supports that children learn through observing, but what about what condition do children learn better in?
· -Ethic Problems (see below for this)
· -Unreliable because 36 girls and 36 boys does not represent children as a whole. 72 children is only a very little part of the every child in the world. Thus, you can’t really base every child’s behavior on this.
· -Invalid because they weren’t put into a natural environment, instead an experiment. Every child learn aggressive behavior in different situations, not just one place. Do children learn aggressive behaviors differently at home?

  • Agression were shown against Bobo Doll not a person. So, generalisation to Bobo doll replaces human.
  • Children might thought they are expected to behave agressively to impress the experimenters

Controversy and Ethical Problems:

· -Children were manipulated intro responding to the aggressive behavior
· -Children were teased and frustrated because they could not touch the toys
· -Unethical and morally wrong. A lot of children were damaged psychologically because of this experiment. It was a awful experience for the children.
· -Teaching children aggressive behaviors is unacceptable

Affected the way research is viewed today?

· -Ethics problems led dissatisfaction. People were dissatisfied with how they treated the children; a lot of them were damaged and left with an unhappy experience. This led people in disliking using children in experiements.
· -Thus, experiments like the Bobo doll experiment are banned nowadays

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Picture taken from:

Work Cited
Boeree, D. C. (2006). Personality Theories. Retrieved February 21, 2009, from Albert Bandura :
Green, C. D. (2005). TRANSMISSION OF AGGRESSION THROUGH IMITATION . Retrieved February 21, 2009, from Classics in the History of Psychology:
Isom, M. D. (1998). The Social Learning Theory . Retrieved February 22, 2009, from Albert Bandura: