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Describe and evaluate one social psychological theory of aggression.

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Introduction

Psychology (essay) Describe and evaluate one social psychological theory of aggression. One of the most influential approaches to aggression is the social learning theory approach, put forward by Albert Bandura. According to this approach, most behaviour including aggressive behaviour is learned. Albert Bandura believed that aggression is learned through a process called behaviour modelling. He argued that individuals, especially children learn aggressive responses from observing others, either personality or through the media and environment. He stated that many individuals believed that aggression will produce reinforcements. These reinforcements can formulate into reduction of tension, gaining financial rewards, or gaining the praise of others. Bandura carried out a study on aggressive behaviour towards the Bobo doll. In the first stage of the study, children who had observed an adult model attack a Bobo doll were divided into three groups. Group 1 went straight into the playroom, Group 2 saw the model being rewarded for their aggression against the doll, while group 3 saw the adult model punished. ...read more.

Middle

He believed aggression reinforced by family members was the most prominent source of behaviour modelling. He stated that children use the same aggressive tactics that their parents illustrated when dealing with others. Children learn to act aggressive when they model their behaviour after violent acts of adults, especially family members. For example, a boy who witnesses his father repeatedly strike his mother will more than likely become an abusive parent and husband. Albert bandura believed that aggression must explain three aspects: First, how aggressive patterns of behaviour are developed; second, what provokes people to behave aggressively, and third, what determines whether they are going to continue to resort to an aggressive behaviour pattern on future occasions. He believed environmental experiences also had an influence on the social learning of violence in children. He reported that individuals that lived in high crime rate areas were more likely to act violently than those who lived in low crime areas. ...read more.

Conclusion

Bandura consistently failed to distinguish between real aggression and play fighting, and it is likely that much of the aggressive behaviour observed by Bandura was only play fighting. This social learning theory can also account for the lack of consistency in people's aggressive behaviour. If someone is assertive and domineering at home but gentle and submissive at work, it means they are reinforced differently in the two situations. They have learned to behave differently in the two situations because assertiveness brings rewards in one context but not in the other. Also if violence is learned, then exposure to successfully aggressive models may lead people to imitate them. Aggression can therefore, be passed across generations, as each new generation observes and imitates what it perceives to be appropriate and successful behaviours of the preceding generation. Bandura's approach is limited in area. Aggressive behaviour does not depend only on observational learning. People's internal emotional state, their interpretation of the current situation, and their personality are other important factors that need to be taken into account. ...read more.

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