One social-psychological theory of aggression is Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (SLT), which suggests that people learn behaviour by not only direct reinforcement and punishment but also by observing the behaviour of others. If a person observes aggressive behaviour from a model figure, they may imitate this behaviour, especially if they identify or look up to the model. This does not necessarily mean that the aggressive behaviour is copied straight away, which suggests that SLT is a cognitive process that is internalised.
The main supporting study for SLT is the Bobo Doll experiment conducted by Bandura (1961), the aim of the study was to see if aggressive behaviour can be learnt through observation imitation. The study found that children who observed a model being aggressive towards the Bobo Doll were more likely to imitate this behaviour when they were later placed in the room with the Bobo Doll. Some children copied actions that the models had performed including sounds like ‘POW’ and punching motions whilst some children improvised their own aggressive behaviour. The study also found that the children were more likely to copy the behaviour when they saw the adult being rewarded for their behaviour. This supports the idea that the possibility of reward influences the likeliness of the behaviour being repeated. However this study does lack ecological validity at is a highly controlled situation that the children would have never experienced before. The children may have been aware of what behaviour was expected of them, meaning that they displayed demand characteristics. The fact that the experiment involves a doll and not real life aggression also causes it to lack ecological validity. The main strength of this study is that it supports the SLT that aggressive behaviour can occur despite their not being direct reinforcement, the children were never directly rewarded for their