Social Psychological Explanation Of Aggression

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The Social Learning theory proposes that the cause of all aggressive behaviour is due to interactions with others in our social world. According to social learning theorists such as Bandura, aggressive behaviour is learned in either one of 2 ways, by direct experience which is based on operant conditioning or by vicarious (indirect) experience which is based on observational learning. Operant conditioning is for example, when a child pushes another child and, as a result, gets something they want; the action is then reinforced and is likely to occur in similar situations in the future. However observational learning is when a child sees a role model behaving in a particular way and imitates the behaviour of the model. It is thought that most aggression is learnt by observational learning, usually from those who are of a big significance to us. From these models we learn about the nature of aggressive behaviour and to which situations this behaviour is appropriate and also its likely consequences. According to behaviourists, behaviour that is reinforced (rewarded) will be repeated and learned and aggression that is associated with a reward (e.g. Praise) is likely to be learned. However there are various factors that can determine whether a person will be aggressive in a certain situation, one of these is whether a person’s previous experiences of aggression (either their own or aggression of another person) were good or bad experiences. Another factor is whether these previous experiences were successful or not, this then allows them to assess how likely their aggressive behaviour will get them rewarded or punished in this certain situation. Finally, the cognitive, social and environmental factors that are operating at the same time, for example a person isn’t likely to act aggressive if they fear that the ‘victim’ may retaliate. On the other hand, aggression is
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