Outline and Evaluate One Social Psychological Explanation for Aggression

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Social learning theory (SLT) explains that aggression is learnt through observing aggressive behaviour and according to Bandura (19655); aggressive behaviour is learned through either directly or vicariously. Learning through direct experience can be described through the principle of operant conditioning where, for example, if an individual acts aggressively and therefore get what they want, and then this would in turn reinforce the action thus increasing the frequency it would occur in a similar situation. However, vicariously learning a behaviour would occur when an individual is exposed to aggressive behaviour, for example, through a role model for children which would lead to an imitation of the behaviour. Furthermore, the role of rewards on the imitation of aggressive behaviour is emphasised in this theory because it must be constantly reinforced and therefore appear rewarding for it to occur. There’s four factors which control the probability of aggressive behaviour: 1) Previous experiences of aggressive behaviour of the individual and of others 2) the degree of success of past aggressive behaviour 3) the likelihood of aggressive behaviour being rewarded or punished and 4) social, environmental and cognitive factors which would be operating simultaneously. Bandura (198666) also theorized four stages for social learning to take place. Firstly, attention where individuals would learn aggressive behaviour if they attend to the model’s behaviour. Secondly, retention where the behaviour must be remembered in order for application. The third stage being production wherein the individual must be able to replicate the behaviour and lastly motivation where the individual would display aggressive behaviour if the expectation for reward would be greater than the expectation of punishment. Here, social learning theory uses the concept of modeling greatly and Bandura
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