Discuss One or More Social Psychological Theories of Aggression (9+16 Marks) Essay

1227 WordsMay 17, 20135 Pages
Social psychological theories propose that the causes of aggressive behaviour arise out of our interactions with others in our social world. Social learning theory (SLT) proposes that aggressive behaviour is learned either through direct experience or by vicarious experience. It claims that children learn to be aggressive by observing the behaviour of those around them particularly the behaviour of significant others, such as parents or elder siblings. By seeing others being rewarded or punished for their aggressive behaviours, the child experiences vicarious reinforcement. From these models, children therefore learn about the nature of aggressive behaviour, the situations where it is appropriate and its likely consequences. In addition, although aggressive behaviour is learned by either direct or vicarious reinforcement, whether it is produced or not is determined by an individual’s expectation of reward and confidence in their ability to use it effectively (self-efficacy). Bandura (1986) claimed that for social learning to take place, individuals must be able to form a mental representation of the aggressive behaviour and the anticipated rewards or punishments that might be associated with it. In the future, if an appropriate opportunity arises, the individual will produce the aggressive behaviour, provided the expectation of reward is greater than the expectation of punishment. Social learning theorists suggest that children learn their aggressive behaviour from aggressive models on TV, who essentially become a source of the ‘scripts’ that guide the child’s own behaviour. These scripts are stored in memory and refined through the individual using these scripts in their own life. The emphasis on these ‘mental representations’ and expectations of reward or punishment might suggest that aggressive behaviour is more a product of an individual’s free will
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