Bobo Doll

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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.


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 behavior which showed that groups A and B imitated the aggressive behaviour they had witnessed, while group C were less aggressive.


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...
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