Social Theories of Aggression

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Psychology A2

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Social Theories of Aggression
1 1. What is the SLT of Aggression?
1.1 The SLT of Aggression suggests aggressive behaviour can be learnt in two ways; either through DIRECT REINFORCEMENT or VICARIOUS REINFORCEMENT
1.1.1 VICARIOUS REINFORCEMENT is when you observe others being rewarded or punished for behaviours (see role model receive a reward, then the child may reproduce/imitate models behaviour in a similar situation
1.1.2 DIRECT REINFORCEMENT is the learning of new behaviours either through reward/punishment. This can be through direct experience e.g. if a child pushes another child to get a toy, the action is reinforced because the child is now playing with the toy they wanted
1.2 Children and aggressive behaviour: The SLT suggests that children learn aggressive behaviour through observing models acting aggressively. The aggressive behaviour becomes reinforced into the child and they may repeat the aggressive acts they witnessed in a similar situation as long as a reward is likely to follow
2 What is aggression?
2.1 Aggression is a type of behaviour which is intended to cause harm or pain. It can be either psysical or verbal and behaviour can be deemed aggressive even though it doesn't cause hurt or pain
2.1.1 Types of Aggression
2.1.1.1 Person Orientated: causing harm to another person- through verbal/physical means e.g. shooting another person
2.1.1.2 Instrumental: Individual gains a reward/preferred outcome for aggressive behaviour e.g. hockey player- hostility increases chances of winning by taking out other players
2.1.1.3 Reactive: A response to an aggressive situation; often shown in response to provocation e.g. self defense
2.1.1.4 Sanctioned: Permitted/legal/justifiable aggressive behaviour e.g. soldiers fighting in a war
3 What is meant by SLT?
3.1 Social learning can be explained as learning through observation and modelling. It focuses on the learning that occurs within a social context (such as your environment). It suggests that people learn from one another, including such concepts as observational learning, imitation, and modelling (Abbott, 2007).
4 2. Social Psychological Explanations of Aggression
4.1 With the help of social psychologists such as Bandura, there are four main methods of SLT which explain how aggressive behaviour can be repeated..
4.1.1 1. Attention: the individual needs to be present to observe models behaviour e.g. children need to attend to what the aggressor is doing/saying in order to reproduce the models behaviour accurately
4.1.1.1 2. Retention: In order to model the models behaviour, it must be remembered and placed into the LTM- where it can be retrieved in similar situations
4.1.1.1.1 3. Production: Observer reproduces model's behaviour
4.1.1.1.1.1 4. Motivation: Individual expects to receive positive reinforcement for their imitated behaviour
4.2 Media violence and Aggression
4.2.1 The SLT leads up to consider where children may be exposed to aggressive models. Research has shown that TV has been a powerful source of imitative learning. Children may watch their role models on TV (such as super hero's fighting the bad guy) and the child may then take a mental representation of their role model's behaviour
4.2.1.1 Hero's can be powerful role models for children; even though they aren't necessarily real!
4.2.1.2 The case of Jamie Bulger- murderers (ten years) exposed to violent films
4.3 3. Banduras research into the SLT of Aggression
4.3.1 What did he claim?
4.3.1.1 Aggressive behaviour is learned either through direct experience/observing others
4.3.2 What is his most famous piece of research?
4.3.2.1 Bandura conducted an experiment using a Bobo Doll (inflatable doll) to investigate whether aggressive behaviour can be learnt through reinforcement and punishment
4.3.2.1.1 Findings: Children witnessing the model on the video being rewarded imitated more aggressive behaviours than those who saw the model being punished
4.3.2.1.2 Conclusion: Children learn aggressive behaviour through imitation and observation; especially if the model has been rewarded for their aggressive act
4.3.2.1.2.1 Reward for a certain behaviour acts as a positive reinforcement which ultimately influences the likelihood of the behaviour being performed by the child (observer)
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