This is a report explaining the outcome of an experiment that was conducted at Stanford University in 1963 by Albert Bandura and colleagues. The research conducted by Bandura and colleagues sought to explore the extent to which children would imitate aggressive behaviour that they saw performed by another person. They were also interested in investigating what factors would affect any imitation; for example, whether the child was male or female and whether or not the model was of the same gender as the child. . (Brace, N., Byford, J., ???Discovering Psychology??™, The Open University (2010)., Chapter 3, Page 109.)
Albert Bandura was very interested in different forms of learning, especially social learning, and he predicted that in certain conditions children were likely to imitate aggressive acts that they had observed. To explore this issue, Bandura set up a series of laboratory experiments which involved looking at the effects that exposure to a violent model act aggressively towards a ???Bobo doll??™ an inflated five-foot-tall toy, these became known as the ???Bobo doll studies??™ . (Brace, N., Byford, J., ???Discovering Psychology??™, The Open University (2010)., Chapter 3, Page 109.)
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Ninety Six children (an equal number on boys and girls) were chosen from the University nursery, all with similar temperaments. Their average age was 4 years and 4 months. The children were placed into one of four groups, each had twenty four children. They individually experienced a similar procedure but with differing variations (conditions). There were four conditions all together. The control condition, against which experimental conditions can be compared, was group four the children in this group were not exposed to any aggressive behaviour.
Each child was taken into a room with an adult from the experiment team; the room was filled with exciting toys including that of an inflatable Bobo doll and wooden mallet. The child was left to play with the toys. Another member of the experiment team (the model) was bought into the room and played with the exciting toys for approximately one minute, after which they turned their attention to the Bobo doll, becoming aggressive with it, hitting it with the mallet kicking it whilst shouting. After ten minutes a member of the experiment team entered the room and took the child to another room where the model played for approximately ten minutes in a non-aggressive manner. The Bobo doll was completed ignored by the model. The child was then led into another room with many more interesting toys. The child was invited to play with them but after two minutes was told they were not allowed to play with these as they were ???the best toys. The child was then led to the fourth and last room where there were aggressive and non-aggressive toys; they were allowed to play freely for twenty minutes whilst being observed. Each of the children in Group One participated in this scenario.
The children in Group Two participated in a similar scenario, the difference being rather than a live model showing aggressive behaviour they were exposed to the same model showing the same aggressive behaviour but in the form of a film.
The children in Group Three participated again in a similar scenario but they were exposed to the model dressed as a black cat showing signs of aggressive behaviour towards the Bob doll in the form of a film.
The twenty minutes of free play the children had in the final room was observed by the experiment team. This time was broken down into five second units. These units were coded according to behaviour. Each child therefore had 240 coding??™s. It was these coding??™s that were to show the amounts of aggressive behaviour each child displayed. The experiment team identified four main behaviour types:
??? Imitative aggression: actions that are clearly repetitions of the behaviour performed by the adult.
??? Partial imitative responses: using the mallet to be aggressive with another toy, not the Bobo doll.
??? No imitative aggression: random aggressive acts not shown by the adult.
??? Aggressive gun play: aiming and pretend firing of the toy gun that was present.(ref)
It was noted how many times each child displayed one of the four behaviours. Two separate members of the experiment team coded each child independently. This was to ensure reliable findings.
The coding??™s revealed the children in Groups 1-3 scored more highly, they displayed more aggressive acts than those in the control group (Group 4). Exposure to the violent adult regardless of whether it was a live person or film character increased aggressive behaviour in the children. In all four conditions boys scored more highly than girls, they also showed differing types of aggression e.g. boys imitated more gun play whilst the girls would rather sit on the Bobo doll rather than punch it. The gender of the mode made a difference, the children displayed more aggression if they were exposed to the male model, and this was true for both boys and girls.
Bandura et al. (1963) concluded that the findings of this study supported their prediction, i.e. exposure to displays of violence increases violent acts displayed by children. Children observing adult behaviour are influenced to think this type of behaviour is acceptable.
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