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Outline and evalutate one or more psychological theories of aggression

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Introduction

Social Learning Theory (SLT) emphasises the importance of observing behaviours and modelling ourselves on these behaviours. The theory suggests that we learn to become aggressive by observing, this is controlled by environmental influences. Bandura (1961) conduced a study on a group of 36 boys and 36 girls; these children were divided into 8 groups of 6 with the remainder making up the control group. There were two conditions - the aggressive and non-aggressive. In the aggressive condition an adult model entered the room and attacked a bobo doll whilst the children watched, the model attacked the doll both with various weapons (mallet, hammer) and verbally. In the non-aggressive condition the adult ignored the bobo doll. ...read more.

Middle

IN addition to this Bandura only used adult models; the children were basing their actions on what adults had done, but would these results be the same had they observed children? This study has also been criticised, as it is vulnerable to demand characteristics, as some of the children felt like they were expected to attack the doll. Despite these limitations, the study was well executed and planned, and clearly showed that the children had learned their behaviour. In addition to SLT, there is also the deindividuation theory of aggression, which suggests that when people experience a loss of identity they become aggressive due to a loss of inhibitions, for example when in a large crowd or a darkened room. ...read more.

Conclusion

All participants were females. The participants had to administer electrical shocks to a confederate when the person answered questions wrong (concept taken from Milgram's shocking obedience study). Zimbardo found that those with their identities disguised shocked for longer and therefore more painfully than the control group did. This suggests that anonymity leads to aggressive behaviour, supporting the deindividuation theory. However, the sample was made up of entirely women, limiting the study by not being able to generalise these results to males. Additionally, the study was unethical as there was no informed consent and protection from harm. The study has also been criticised for having a KKK effect, as the participants in lab coats may have associated them selves with the Ku Klux Klan image, which could have accounted for the long/painful shocks rather than the suspected anonymity. ...read more.

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