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Session 7: Social Learning Theory. Explain social learning theory, making reference to two relevant studies.

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Presentation on theme: "Session 7: Social Learning Theory. Explain social learning theory, making reference to two relevant studies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Session 7: Social Learning Theory

2 Explain social learning theory, making reference to two relevant studies


4  One of most predominant explanations is Albert Bandura’s social learning theory observational learning  Theory assumes that humans learn behaviour through observational learning  People can learn by watching models and imitating their behaviour

5  Sometimes the model is trying to have a direct effect on the learner e.g. a teacher and a student  But, often models serve as indirect models, in that they are not trying to influence behaviour


7  According to Bandura (1977), social learning depends on the following factors: 1.Attention: 1.Attention: the person must pay attention to the model 2.Retention 2.Retention: the observer must be able to remember the behaviour that has been observed 3.Motor reproduction: 3.Motor reproduction: observer has to be able to replicate the action 4.Motivation*: 4.Motivation*: learners must want to demonstrate what they have learned

8  According to theory motivation to learn is quite complex and several factors influence whether observer wants to learn  Factors affecting motivation to learn:  Consistency: if model behaves in a way that is consistent across situations, observer is more likely to imitate  Identification with the model: tendency to imitate models who are like ourselves e.g. age and gender  Rewards/punishment: Seeing others benefit/be punished for their actions. This is called vicarious reinforcement  Liking the model: warm and friendly models are more likely to be imitated- Yarrow et al (1970) found children more likely to imitate altruistic behaviour from people who they have already developed a friendly relationship with compared to a stranger

9 Two aims: 1. To investigate whether children would imitate aggression modeled by an adult 2. To see if children were more likely to imitate same sex modelsParticipants  72 children aged 3-6 years  36 boys and 36 girls  Children were divided into 3 groups  Groups were matched with regards to levels of aggression based on an evaluation from parents and teachers

10 ConditionDescription Aggressive Model Exposed to adult models who showed aggression by bashing an inflatable “Bobo” doll Non-aggressive model Observed a non-aggressive adult who assembled toys for 10 minutes ControlNo model observed

11  After watching the models, the children were placed in a room with toys  Very soon, they were taken out of the room, being told that these toys were for other children and were then put into a room with the Bobo doll

12 Results  Children who had observed the aggressive model were significantly more aggressive- both verbally and physically- towards the Bobo doll  According to Bandura, the theory of social learning theory was demonstrated in the study, since the children showed signs of observational learning

13 Results  Bandura also observed that girls were more likely to imitate verbal aggression and boys were more likely to imitate physical aggression  When boys observed women bashing the Bobo doll, they often made comments like “ladies shouldn’t do that!”  Children were more likely to imitate same-sex models

14 Low Ecological Validity  Experiment has been criticised for low ecological validity. Not only was the study carried out in a laboratory, there were other factors which made the situation artificial:  Only a brief encounter with the model  Children were intentionally frustrated after they were put in toy room  Could be argued study does little to demonstrate what happens if a child is repeatedly exposed to aggressive parents or violence on television  Does aggression against a Bob doll indicate learned aggression in general or is it highly specific to this situation

15 Other methodological issues  Aggression modeled by adults was not completely standardised meaning children may have observed slight differences in aggression displayed  Despite attempts to match participants on levels of aggression across groups, the evaluations were based on observations from teachers and parent which may not be accurate or reliable.  Question of demand characteristics: children may have acted aggressively because they thought it would please the researcher

16 Ethics  Use of young children is ethically questionable  Observing adult strangers act in an aggressive manner may have been frightening for children  Teaching aggressive behaviour to children also questionable. No guarantee that if aggressive behaviour was learned that it would be reversible

17  Social learning theory has been used to explain many things  According to social learning theory, there is a chance that violence on television will lead to more violent children  But is this so?


19 Q40u4 44

20  Many studies indicate that by watching aggression children will learn how to be aggressive in new ways and they also draw conclusions about whether being aggressive to others will lead to reward or punishment

21 Huesmann and Eron (1986)  Carried out a longitudinal study  Monitored children’s behaviour over a 15 year period  Found a positive correlation between number of hours of violence watched on television by elementary school children and the level of aggression demonstrated when they were teenagers  Also found those who watched a lot of television violence when they were 8 years old were more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for criminal acts as adults


23  Charlton et al (2002)  Conducted a natural experiment  Island of St Helena in the Atlantic Ocean

24 Aim:  to investigate whether children would exhibit more aggressive behaviour after the introduction to the island in 1995Procedure:  children aged 3-8 were observed before and after the introduction of television  Content analysis of TV showed level of violence on television matched what children in UK generally exposed to  Behaviour observed through the use of video cameras that were set up in the playgrounds of 2 primary schools on the island  Researchers also conducted interviews with teachers, parents and some of the older children

25 Results:  Analysis of hundreds of hours of videotape, backed up by interview data showed there was no increase in aggressive or anti-social behaviour.  This was also the case after five years

26  Parents and teachers said that antisocial behaviour was not accepted on the island and that there was a high degree of social control in the community. Shows that people may learn aggressive behaviour but may not exhibit it for different reasons.  Social and cultural factors play a role in what behaviours are acceptable, so even though children had no doubt learned aggressive behaviour, they did not show it.

27  High ecological validity: study investigated a naturally occurring event as opposed to an artificial task  Results of study do not question SLT but rather the results of Bandura and Ross (1961). Results also support the idea that people must be motivated to imitate behaviour.

28  Explains why some behaviours may be passed down in a family or within a culture  Also explains how children acquire behavior that isn’t a result of trial-and-error learning  However: ◦ behavior can be acquired but not demonstrated ◦ Can observe your parent driving and get the basic idea but not demonstrate it until many years later

29 Explains how some behavior is transmitted Explains how children acquire behavior that isn’t a result of trial-and-error learning Behavior can be acquired but not demonstrated – Can observe your parent driving and get the basic idea but not demonstrate it until many years later Why is some behavior imitated while other behavior is not?

30  SLT can provide explanation for some learning but certainly cannot acquire for all acquisition of knowledge  Media and violence: may contribute but many other factors involved in a complex process yRQ

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