Albert Bandura Bobo Doll Experiment

The Bobo doll experiment was conducted by Albert Bandura in 1961 and studied patterns of behaviour associated with aggression.

Bandura hoped that the experiment would prove that aggression can be explained, at least in part, by social learning theory. The theory of social learning would state that behaviour such as aggression is learned through observing and imitating others.

The experiment is important because it sparked many more studies about the effects that viewing violence had on children.

Method: In this experiment three groups of children saw a film which showed the adult attacking an inflatable doll with a stick. The doll was thrown across the room, sat on, punched and kicked. Bandura provided three alternative endings to the film:

Group A – Saw only the doll being hit. Group B – Saw the adult being praised and rewarded for hitting the doll. Group C – Saw the adult being punished for hitting the doll.

When the children had seen the film, they were given the same doll. Bandura observed their behaviour which showed that groups A and B imitated the aggressive behaviour they had witnessed, while group C were less aggressive.

Results: Bandura found that the children exposed to the aggressive model were more likely to act in physically aggressive ways than those who were not exposed to the aggressive model. For those children exposed to the aggressive model, the number of imitative physical aggressions exhibited by the boys was 38.2 and 12.7 for the girls.

The results concerning gender differences strongly supported Bandura’s prediction that children are more influenced by same-sex models. Boys exhibited more aggression when exposed to aggressive male models than boys exposed to aggressive female models. When exposed to aggressive male models, the number of aggressive instances exhibited by boys averaged 104 compared to 48.4 aggressive instances exhibited by boys exposed to aggressive female models. While the results for the girls shows similar findings, the results were less drastic. When exposed to aggressive female models, the number of aggressive instances exhibited by girls averaged 57.7 compared to 36.3 aggressive instances exhibited by girls exposed to aggressive male models.

Bandura also found that the children exposed to the aggressive model were more likely to act in verbally aggressive ways than those who were not exposed to the aggressive model. The number of imitative verbal aggressions exhibited by the boys was 17 times and 15.7 times by the girls. In addition, the results indicated that the boys and girls who observed the nonaggressive model exhibited far less nonimitative mallet aggression than in the control group, which had no model.

The experimenters came to the conclusion that children observing adult behaviour are influenced to think that this type of behaviour is acceptable thus weakening the child’s aggressive inhibitions. The result of reduced aggressive inhibitions in children means that they are more likely to respond to future situations in a more aggressive manner.

Lastly, the evidence strongly supports that males have a tendency to be more aggressive than females. When all instances of aggression are tallied, males exhibited 270 aggressive instances compared to 128 aggressive instances exhibited by females.

Discussion: This experiment showed that males are drastically more inclined to physically aggressive behaviours than females. Bandura explains that in our society, aggression is considered to be a distinct male trait. Because of this, boys are raised to be more aggressive it is therefore more acceptable when males exhibit this trait. Girls, not confident of displaying physical aggression, almost matched the boys in Bandura’s experiments in terms of verbal aggression.

The experiment suffers from a methodological shortcoming: The sole purpose of a Bobo doll is to bounce back up when knocked over; to act as a target. Therefore, the children in the experiment were likely to hit the target Bobo doll for fun because this is what it is designed for, not because they feel aggressive or are imitating aggressive behaviour.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobo_doll_experiment

Related posts

Leave a comment