Bandura, Ross & Ross (1963) conducted a controlled research study in which they tested the hypothesis that imitation is partly dependent on response-consequence to the model. This study tested the theory of vicarious reinforcement by predicting that the children who observe a model that projects highly desired reinforcers through aggressive behavior will display more imitative and non-imitative aggression than children who see the model punished for exhibiting aggressive responses. The sample group for this study consisted of 40 boys and 40 girls between the ages of 38 to 63 months, randomly selected from Stanford University Nursery School.
This study used an experimental research method, since it manipulated the independent variable and had control over extraneous variables. Furthermore, the samples of boys and girls selected for the study were randomly assigned to one of the two experimental groups (group receiving the treatment) or control groups (group not exposed to the experimental treatment).
The independent variables used in the study consisted of the following four conditions to which the children were randomly exposed: aggressive model-rewarded, aggressive model punished, a control group shown highly expressive but nonaggressive models, and another control group that had no exposure to the models; and the gender of the children. The dependent variable of the study is the resulting behavior imitated by children after observing the modeled behavior observed in the video.
The procedure used to conduct the experiment was by randomly assigning boys and girls to one of the two experimental or control groups and then showing them the 5-minute film sequence, in which the models were two adult males. In Bandura’s study each child was taken