Social-Psychological Theories of Aggression

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Social-Psychological Theories of Aggression
1 Social Learning Theory
1.1 Bandura, 1977 thought that we learn by observing others and imitating their behaviour.
1.2 conditions for effective Social Learning:
1.2.1 1. Attending to the behaviour (observing it happen/paying attention) 2. Remembering the behaviour 3. Re-enacting the behaviour 4. Expecting the behaviour to be rewarded
1.3 Observation: watching a roole model's behaviour/imitating it. Bandura suggested that children learn by observing the role models with whomom they identify, as supported by Bandura et al's 1961 Bobo Doll experiment.
1.4 Bandura's 1961 Bobo doll experiment: Sample of children aged 3-5 years old
1.4.1 Group 1 watched a video of adult models acting aggressively towards a bobo doll, and group 2 watched non-aggressive interaction. Children in group 1 displayed aggressive behaviour when they later interacted with the doll, not only kicking, punching and verbal agression copied from the adults, but they also invented new means of aggression not present in the video that they had watched. Group 2 displayed little or no aggression towards the doll.
1.5 Vicarious Reinforcement- Witnessing another person being rewarded or punished for certain behaviour. Model: A person who displays a behaviour that may then be imitated, ususally someone with influence, like a parent.
1.6 Mental Representation: cognitive element of theory- the person forms these of possible rewards and punishments in response to a behaviour. Behaviours are repeated as long
1.7 Evaluation of Social Learning Theory:
1.7.1 Positive (+) Bandura and Walters did an experiment to explain why children would behave aggressively in the absence of a model. the children were divided into three groups and shown a video of an adult model behaving aggressively towards a Bobo doll. In group 1, the model was seen to be rewarded for aggressive behaviour, in group 2 the model was seen to be punished, and in group 3 there was no consequence. Social Learning theory can be used to explain cultural differences in aggression. The !Kung San tribe of the Kalahari Desert engage in very little aggressive behaviour. When two children argue or fight, parents neither reward nor punish them. Instead, they just separate and distract them. There are no physical punishments. Social Learning theory explains the lack of reinforcements of aggressive behaviour, and no aggressive models meaning the children of the tribe never learn to be aggressive.
1.7.2 Negative the Bandura studies have been criticised for lacking validity. It is possible that the children were aware of what was expected of them, and so acted accordinlgly. One little girl reportedly siad, 'Look mummy, there's the doll we have to hit' on entering the laboritory.
1.7.3 Mixed Evaluation points for Social Learning Theory Phillips: Daily homicide rates in the US almost always increased in the week following amajor boxing match. This suggests that viewers were imitating behaviour they had watched. However, this data is correlational and it is a natural study, so there's a problem with cause and effect, which cannot be established, and lack of control over extraneous variables. Furthermore, the studies involved a doll rather thana person. The children may have acted differently to a real person, which suggests a lack of mundane realism. However, Bandura repeated the experiment with a video of a woman beating up a real person dressed as a clown, and the children still exhibited aggressive behaviour towards the Bobo doll.
2 Deindividuation Theory
2.1 Zimbardo, 1969
2.2 Definition Loss of personal identity and inhibitions about violence due to being part of a large and anonymous group, or wearing something which leads to feeling anonymous, such as a uniform. It is a development of Gustave le Bon's classic crowd theory: in a crowd, the combination of anonymity, suggestibility and contagion cause a collective mind causing a loss of self-control and self-evaluation.
2.3 Factors conributing the deindividuation:
2.3.1 Anonymity
2.3.2 altered consciousness e.g. drugs/alcohol
2.4 Process of deindividuationL Crowds diminish awareness of individuality. no single person is identifiable. Anonymity: The larger the crowd, the greater the anonymity. Anonymity leads to feeling unaccountable for behaviour, a reduced sense of guilt and shame due to less self-evaluation and less concern about evaluatoin from others.
2.5 Research support:
2.5.1 Rehm et al randomly assigned German children to handball teams of five people- half the teams wore the same orange Tshirts, the other half their normal, own clothes. the children wearing matching uniforms played consistently more aggressively than the children in their everyday clothes. this suggests that the children had a reduced sense of personal identity, so they acted more aggressively.
2.5.2 Zimbardo instructed groups of four female undergraduate students to deliver electric shocks to another student to aid learning. Half of the participants wore bulky lab coats, and hoods that hid their faces, sat in separate cubicles and were never referred to by name. The other participants wore their normal clothes, had name tags and were introduced to each other. Both sets of participants were told that they could see the person being shocked. Participants in the deindiviualised condition shocked the learner for twice as long as identifiable participants did. This was a lab study, so had good ontrol over extraneous variables, but also had low mundane realism. This suggests that the more deindividualised the participants were, the more aggressively they acted.
2.5.3 Mullen analysed nespaper cuttings of sixty lynchings in the US between 1899 and 1946. He found that the m ore people there were in the mob, the greater the savagery with which they killed their victims. This is a study of real life, so there's high mundane realism, but also correlation/causation issues. Also, it may be that more gruesome killings attracted more attention. This suggests that the size of a crowd is influential.
2.5.4 Mann analysed 21 suicide jumps in the US in the late 60s and 70s. In 10 out of 21 cases where a crowd had been gathered to watch, baiting had occurred. The incidents tended to occur at night, when the crowd was large and at some distance from the jumper.
2.5.5 Watson was an anthropologist who collected data on the extent to which warriors in 23 societies changed their appearance before going into battle and killing/torturing/mutilating their victims. Societies where warriors changed their appearance wer emore destructive toward their victims compared with those who did not. This suggests that their altered and hidden appearance dehumaised them.
2.6 Evaluation
2.6.1 Mixed Cannavale et al 1970 found that male/female groups responded differently under deindividuation conditions. Increase in aggression was obtained only in the all male groups. Diener, 1973, found that greater disinhibition occured in males also. Therefore, deindiviuation theory may predict male aggressive behaviour more adequately than females'. However0 there is gender bias: Inadequate explanation of female aggression
2.6.2 Negative Johnson and Downing (1979) replicated Zimbardo's 1969 study, except for the participants' dress. they varied participants by having them wear a mask and overalls resembling a Ku Klux Klan uniform, or a nurse uniform. When participants were dressed in the KKK outfit, they shocked more than a control condition, but when dressed as nurses, they shocked less, so perhaps people are not deindividualised by a uniform, but they respond to the social cues of context/situation that they're in. Nurses' group norms suggest kindness in comparison the KKK group norms which suggest violence. Issue- This was a lab study, so it lacks mundane realism and ecological validity. a meta analysis of 60 deindividuation studies, by Postmes and Spears, 1998, concluded that there is insufficient evidence for the major claims of the theory, for example, disinhibition and antisocial behaviour were NOT found to be more common in larger groups and anonymous settings. Issue: findings that support the theory are therefore inconsistent, making them unreliable, so the theory does not have sound evidence to go on. Zimbardo's 1969 theory of deindividuation is focussed on explaining aggressive behaviour, when in fact studies have shown that bieng in a deindividuated state can increase pro-social behaviour. Spivey and Prentice-Dunn (1990) found that if prosocial environmental cues were present, such as a prosocial model, deindivuated participants performed significantly more altruistic acts, e.g. giving money, and significantly fewer antisocial acts, like giving electric shocks, compared to a control group. Therefore, as Zimbardo's theory does no tinclude the effect of deindividuation on prosocial behaviour, it is not a full explanation of human behaviour.
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