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Samuel and Bryant (conservation)Bandura, Ross and Ross (aggression)Hraba and Grant (doll choice) a. What do these studies tell us about human behaviour and experience? (10 marks

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Introduction

A number of studies take a developmental approach and describe research carried out on children. Using the studies from the list below, answer the questions which follow. Samuel and Bryant (conservation) Bandura, Ross and Ross (aggression) Hraba and Grant (doll choice) a. What do these studies tell us about human behaviour and experience? (10 marks) Samuel and Bryant (1894)~ 'Asking only one question in the conservation experiment' Samuel and Bryant's study is one of many studies that have tried to test Piaget's theory of cognitive development through criticising his methods. Before understanding Samuel and Bryant's study, it is important to have a clear understanding of some of the arguments put forward by Piaget. Bandura believed in adopting a social learning approach to child development. The social learning approach argues that development involves the process of learning more as one gets older. Therefore, Bandura believed that cognitive or moral progress was simply a process of quantitative change since the child will be learning more. However, Piaget's approach to child development takes a more structuralist and qualitative approach. Piaget believed that development is a systematic and structured process. In his view, there was the presence of a qualitative difference in children's thoughts. Piaget held the view that changes in the way a child perceived the world marked a change in cognitive or intellectual development. He thought that intellectual development happened in 4 stages and that each child could only progress to the next stage once he/she had totally mastered the first one. Piaget's 4 maturational stages are outlined briefly below. * Sensory motor stage (0 - 18 months)~At this stage the child acquires a comprehension of its environment by combining the use if its senses with movement i.e. the child learns to match its senses with what it can do. * Pre-operational stage (18 months - 7 years) ~ At this stage the child is capable of representing objects or events by symbols or signs. ...read more.

Middle

However, the finding that boys were more aggressive than girls could have a 'nature' explanation. * The boys in the aggressive model conditions displayed more aggressive responses if the model was male than if the model was female. * The girls in the aggressive model conditions also showed more physical aggression if the model was male but a greater degree of verbal aggression if the model was female. The exception to this general pattern was the observation of how many times they hit Bobo and in this case, the effects of gender were reversed. Furthermore, it was learnt that the children found the aggression exhibited by the female model confusing. It was learnt that most persons think that a particular sex has to behave in a particular manner and if the particular gender deviates from its prescribed and expected manner of behaviour, this is viewed by others in society as confusing and abnormal. An example of this is seen in the study when one of the children commented on the behaviour of the female model. One of the children said: "who is that lady? That's not the way for a lady to behave. Ladies are supposed to act like ladies..." and another child said: "You should have seen what that girl did in there. She was punching and fighting but no swearing". Hence, the subjects were responding in terms of sex discrimination and their prior learning about what is sex appropriate behaviour for each gender. Perhaps, the children found the behaviour of the female model confusing because it was not similar with their prior learning of what culturally appropriate behaviour is. On the other hand, it was learnt that aggression on the part of the male model was viewed as more appropriate by both boys and girls. An example of this can be seen when one boy said: "Al's a good socker, he beat up Bobo. ...read more.

Conclusion

Moreover, a better understanding about human behaviour and experience was achieved when Samuel and Bryant conducted their study. If the Bandura, Ross and Ross study was never conducted there would have been no insight into the transmission of aggression in children through imitation of aggressive models. The findings from this study and from similar studies have been used in the argument that media violence might be a contributor to the violence present in society. The social learning theory which Bandura's study supports has been used to explain the so-called 'cycle of violence', or more precisely: 'the inter-generational transmission of aggression. The main idea is that if you have been the victim of (physical) abuse as a child, you are more likely to become an abusive parent. It also increases the chances that a person might be a wife or husband batterer. Hence, Bandura's study helps us to better understand aggression in human beings particularly in children. * It helps us to document, account and be aware of changes in the cognitive developmental processes of children ~ This point can be demonstrated in the Hraba and Grant study. In the earlier study conducted by Clark and Clark in 1947 it was revealed that black children preferred white dolls when asked to choose which were nice, which they would like to play with and which were a nice colour and they chose black dolls when asked which dolls looked bad. However, in Hraba and Grant's study in 1969, it was found that black children were more proud of their race since they showed a preference for dolls of their race instead of the contrasting race. This study was also useful as it demonstrates the fact that the results of psychological research have a 'lifespan'. Findings from the 1930s may not have anything to tell about behaviours today. This suggests that we should be aware of the social and political context, as well as the culture, in which a piece of research is conducted. ...read more.

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