“During the 1960’s, there was a lot of concern and debate about whether a child’s development was down to genetics, environmental factors or social learning from others around them” (Shuttleworth, 2008). Children are surrounded by many influential people which have a great impact on their behaviour, both positive and negative, for example, “parents within the family, characters on children’s TV, friends within their peer group and teachers at school” (McLeod, 2011b). Albert Bandura believed that children are undoubtedly influenced by the behaviour they witness whether it is positive or negative actions. In this instance aggressive or non-aggressive behaviour. Albert Bandura, Dorothea Ross and Sheila A. Ross (1961), started their famous BoBo doll experiment in which they wanted to show “if social behaviours (i.e. aggression) can be acquired by imitation” (McLeod, 2011a). He aimed to show this by using actors showing aggressive and non aggressive behaviour towards an inflatable five foot tall doll.
Adults and peer groups have a big influence on how children behave, one aspect being through social learning. “In the modern world, there are many concerns about the effect of social influences on the development and growth of a child’s personality and morality” (Shuttleworth, 2008). Bandura’s (1977) social learning theory “states behaviour is learned from the environment through the process of observational learning. Children observe the people around them behaving in various ways” (McLeod, 2011b).
Bandura made several predictions about what could be the end results of his experiment. He predicted children who observed an adult acting aggressively towards another individual would be likely to act aggressively even when the adult role model was not around. He believed children are more likely to imitate models of the same sex rather than opposite sex models, boys are more likely to behave aggressively than girls and “children who observed the non-aggressive adult model would be less aggressive than the children who observed the aggressive model; the non-aggressive exposure group would also be less aggressive than the control group” (Cherry, 2012). Bandura believed there was a large amount of evidence which supported “that gender role stereotypes portrayed by the media as well as parents and teachers” (Gross, et al, 2000, p 523).
Through his research Bandura wanted to identify that although parents are important models, male and female models in the media also influence children.
Bandura’s hypothesis was clear and made sense. He wanted to build upon previous studies “designed to account for the phenomenon of identification in terms of incidental learning, demonstrated that children readily imitated behaviour exhibited by an adult model in the presence of the model” (Bandura, et al, 1961). The journal shows in some detail different research carried out prior to Bandura’s study on this subject matter. Such studies were carried out by “Blake,1958; Grosser, Polansky and Lippitt, 1951; Rosenblith, 1959; Schachter and Hall, 1952” (Bandura, et al, 1961). They showed that “mere observation of responses of a model has facilitating effect on subjects’ reactions in the immediate social influence setting” (Bandura, et al, 1961). These experiments illustrate that children imitated behaviour portrayed by an adult model in the presence of the model. What they failed to provide was convincing evidence that these children would continue to imitate the model in a new setting where the model was removed. Bandura’s experiment removed the model to see if this impacted in anyway.
Bandura also wanted to extend previous experiments to emphasise the influence of the sex model and sex of subjects on imitation. This followed up a study by Fauls and Smith (1956). This study showed “preschool children perceive their parents as having distinct preferences regarding sex appropriate modes of...