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a) Outline two explanations of aggression - 12 marks

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Introduction

Essay question: a) Outline two explanations of aggression (12 marks) b) Evaluate these explanations in terms of relevant research studies (12) Essay plan: * Outline deindividuation (150 words) * Outline social learning theory (100 words) * Evaluate how far research supports deindividuation (180 words) * Evaluate how far research supports social learning theory (130 words) One theory of aggression is deindividuation. Deindividuation refers to when individuals lose their sense of individuality and behave in an anti-social or primitive way. Zimbardo identified a difference between individual (conforming to acceptable social standards) and deindividuated (not conforming to society's norms) behaviour. He proposed that deindividuation is associated with increased anonymity, diminished fear of retribution and a diluted sense of guilt. ...read more.

Middle

and if expectancies of future outcome are good. The expectancies of future outcomes will be based on vicarious reinforcement, ie. whether the observed behaviour is punished or rewarded. Even if the behaviour is learnt, it may not necessarily be carried out if these conditions are not met. Social Learning theory states that we already have an instinct to aggress, but we learn how and when to be aggressive. b) Zimbardo's prison simulation (1973) found that guards wearing uniform became more anonymous and less identifiable. The prisoners were also dehumanised, by giving them numbers. Therefore, the aggressive behaviour shown by the guards may have been a result of deindividuation. This study was shown to have high ecological validity as it was very realistic it has been found in similar situations. ...read more.

Conclusion

Bandura carried out research using Bobo dolls to test social learning theory. The findings of these studies showed that children imitated the aggressive behaviour they observed, as suggested by social learning theory. Furthermore, he found that when the models were punished the imitation dropped, suggesting vicarious reinforcement is a factor. Also, the children learnt the behaviour in each case, even when they did not perform it as they could imitate it later when offered a reward for doing so. These findings support the principles of the social learning theory. Phillips (1986) found that US homicide rates rise the week following a major boxing match, similarly Stack (1987) found that suicide rates were high in New York City the week following Marylin Monroe's suicide. Therefore it is likely that vicarious reinforcement from these incidents caused the imitation of their role models. ...read more.

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