Bashing Bobo
Checking for understanding
One study of Social Cognitive Learning Theory is Bandura, Ross and Ross (1961).
This study had the aim to determine whether children would learn aggressive
behaviour by imitating an adult model.
The study was made up of 3 - 5 year old children. They were first evaluated to
determine their level of aggression. This was done by asking the experimenter and
teacher to describe the children’s behaviour. Bandura used a matched-pairs design
to make sure that the different levels of aggression were evenly distributed in the
groups. There were three independent variables in this study: whether the children
were exposed to violence or not, the gender of the child, and the gender of the
model. The children then watched either a male or a female model either act
(bashing the Bobo with a baseball bat and yelling at the Bobo), act
passively (assembling toys), or they had no model. This served as the control group
to see what children would do when simply but with the Bobo.
The children were then individually invited into a room full of toys. After they saw
all the toys, they were told that they were not allowed to play with them since they
were for other children. This caused all of the children to feel frustrated.
The results were that all of the children showed some level of aggression against the
Bobo. However, the group that saw the aggressive model were the most aggressive.
Those that saw the control were second; and those what saw the passive model
showed the least aggression. In addition, the boys were the most violent. They
© John Crane, InThinking
tended to imitate both the male and the female models, although they commented
that the woman’s behaviour was not acceptable, saying “Ladies should not behave
that way.” Girls tended to imitate the verbal aggression of the male - and imitated
the female model more directly.
1. What are two ethical concerns of Bandura’s study?
1. The aggressive behaviour of the kids
2. Consent (+18)
2. Why did Bandura evaluate the level of aggression of the children before he began? What
are the problems with how he did this?
The teachers could have favoured a few kids. (Biased)
3. What is meant by “Bandura used a matched-pairs design?”
He grouped each kid by gender equally I.e in one group he had equal no. Of boys and girls.
4. What were the three independent variables in the study?
1. whether the children were exposed to violence or not,
2. the gender of the child
3. and the gender of the
5. What were the dependent variables?
Aggression levels in the kids.
6. What was the role of the control group?
The role of the control group was to manipulate the level of aggression in kids when they are frustrated.
7. Why did Bandura put them in a room full of toys, only to then be told that they couldn’t
play with the toys?
To check if the kids acted similar to the models I.e if they acted aggressively with the Bobo doll. This also triggered
aggression and commenced the experiment.
8. According to Social Cognitive Theory, why does it make sense that there was a gender
difference in aggression?
Men tend to be more aggressive (use of physical attacks) where as women were more aggressive with
words. When young boys watched the women act aggressively they stated that women mustn’t behave that
way. This shows the difference in aggression and that women couldn’t act as aggressively as the men. And
therefore there was a difference in the aggression behaviours of both the models.
© John Crane, InThinking
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