Are You Concerned?
The effects on children of witnessing violence
Have you ever noticed violent behaviour from kids and wondered what might be causing it? For those that work with children, understanding this behaviour is essential. You’ve probably heard stories of extreme violence perpetrated by children such as the Columbine shootings or the murder of James Bulger and you might have also heard how each of these were linked to simulated violence in the form of video games and movies. Understanding a root cause of violent behaviour in children has been a significant area of research by various psychologists over the years including the research of Albert Bandura, Dorothea Ross and Sheila Ross.
The ‘Bobo Doll’ Experiment
In 1963 Bandura, Ross and Ross (Oates, 2012 p109-17) carried out research in order to understand the effect that witnessing violence has on children, and if there is a difference between video based violence and live violence. In essence a large group of children were broken down into three groups and then individually run through a corresponding test;
➢ Group A - Witnessed a person acting violently towards a large, inflated “Bobo Doll” toy
➢ Group B - Witnessed the same actions but on video
➢ Group C - Went through the same experiment without witnessing any violent behaviour
The children’s subsequent behaviour was then carefully examined to see if, after seeing violence, they are more likely to act violently.
The results were clear in showing a few trends. Firstly, boys were more aggressive than girls throughout all areas of the test, even if they had been in Group C, however both boys and girls in Group A and B displayed more aggression than their counterparts in Group C. Also there was little variation between group A and B.
The researchers also broke down the way they observed the children’s aggressive reactions into two main areas. Either the violence displayed by the children would...
References: Oates. J., (2012) ‘Learning from watching’, in Brace. N., Byford. J., (eds) ‘Investigating Psychology’ Milton Keynes/Oxford, The Open University/Oxford University Press
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