Psychological Theories Of Aggression Essay

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Psychological Theories Of Aggression Essay



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Theories of aggression Social Psychological Theories of Aggression - Social Learning Theory

Subsequent research works in the area of frustration and aggression give the impression that Frustration— Aggression hypothesis should be modified. From such researches originate the Social Learning Theory. Bandura, Berkowitz and others, the proponents of social learning theory view that an arousal which results from frustration does not necessarily lead to aggression, but only creates a condition for a readiness to cope with a threatening situation. It can elicit different kinds of responses depending upon the kind of responses an individual has learned to cope with the frustrating situations in the earlier period of life. Thus, he may become aggressive, may become regressive and cry or may withdraw from the situation, may remain silent, may displace his aggression on others or may seek the help of others.

That response which has been most successful in the past in relieving his frustration will be repeated. Bandura has demonstrated that aggressive responses can be learned by reinforcement or by imitation or by modeling which come under social learning theory. In a study on nursery school children it was observed that when an adult showed various forms of aggressive responses towards a large doll, the children showed similar aggressive responses through imitation.

There after they were shown film versions of aggressive modeling using dolls as cartoons. Results showed that the children who had observed life cartoon characters exhibited greater aggressive behaviour. It was also noticed from follow up studies that children remembered these aggressive reactions even after eight months. This proves that aggressive behaviour in mostly learnt and imitated from the environment is which the child lives. Julian Rotter , another, contributor to Social Learning Theory suggests that the likelihood that a given behaviour will occur in a specific situation depends upon the learning and imitation of the organism in a social situation, the expectancies concerning the outcome of a behaviour will produce and the reinforcement value they attach to such out conies i.

Social learning theory relies on the role of modeling, identification and human interactions. According to Bandura a person can learn by imitating and observing the behaviour of another person. If the model is not liked, appreciated or respected by the person, then his behaviour may not be imitated only when a person identifies with another person and likes him, he accepts him as a model and imitates him.

A child imitates his parents because he likes and respects them as they take care of him, provide him security, confidence, love and affection. In course of parenting he observes their behaviour and imitates them. Social learning through observation is also called imitation learning. Social learning theorists combine operant and classical conditioning theories. Although observation of models is a major factor in the learning process of social learning theory, it is important that-imitation of model must be rewarded and reinforced if the person has to identify with the person and accept his qualities as his own quality.

He not only accepts the qualities of his model, he also learns to behave like them under similar situation. Alfred Bandura is a major proponent of Social Learning School; According to him behaviour occurs as a result of the interplay between cognitive and environmental factors, a concept known as reciprocal determinism. When children or other persons learn by observing others either incidentally or intentionally, this process is called Modeling or Learning through imitation. But choice of a model depends upon so many factors like age, sex, status, similarity to oneself, whether he likes or dislikes him, whether he respects or dis-respects him etc. But suppose due to some reasons the boy does not like his father but loves his mother most then he may accept his mother as a model and imitate her behaviour, likes and dislikes dress, emotion etc.

If the mother shows aggressive reaction towards the cook, the child will learn to show the same reaction. If the mother does not like a particular food, the child will not like the same. Sometimes children are found to accept their teachers as model and imitate their behaviour. If the model selected by the child is normal, less aggressive, reflects healthy values and norms the child develops socially acceptable qualities.

On the other-hand an aggressive model helps in the development of aggressive reactions. Normal and socially acceptable behaviour of the model develops the capacity to adapt to normal everyday life and various threatening, dangerous situations in day to day life. Even abnormal and maladaptive behaviour learnt from un-favourable role models can be eliminated through behaviour modification technique operant conditioning. Through behaviour therapy a person can learn alternate behaviour from other role models who show normal and society acceptable models.

It is true that an aggressive and maladaptive model helps in the development of aggressive and maladaptive behaviour. As children grow older they acquire the knowledge of sex category through social learning. Social learning theory emphasizes the impact of modeling and operant conditioning learning on acquisition of different behaviors. According to social learning theory children are rewarded with verbal praise when they behave in accordance with gender roles and gender stereotypes i. For example a boy learns to be dressed like his father or brother and he plays games decided for the boys or the games which other boys play.

If a boy is dressed like a girl he is ridiculed by the society and this activity is not reinforced or rewarded. So he gives up being dressed like a girl and starts wearing the dresses meant for boys. Similarly a girl learns to help her mother in house hold works as society expects a girl to do so. Here the approval of parents and sanction of society acts as rein-forcer for the child, so he imitates such activities. On the contrary, punishment eliminates certain learning and behaviour not approved by the society and culture. When a boy imitates the male members of his family and a girl imitates the female members of the family they tend to adopt the behaviour shown by their same sex models.

In several recent studies Bandura, Bandura and Walters et. In a typical experiment a child is exposed to a real life or filmed model who is either a child or an adult. The model then performs various activities and the child observes them. There after it is examined how far the child has imitated the actions displayed by the models. Changes that occur in the behaviour of the child after observing models and imitating them are not always positive in nature.

Very often people are likely to acquire bad habits as good ones. When he reached there he saw Babloo was rolling on the floor, crying and crying and showing tantrums as his mother did not give him money to buy ice-cream. Atul observed this vividly and next day he was found showing the same tantrums and aggressive actions when his mother refused to give him money to buy chocolates. In another incident a boy named Raju saw his friend Bittoo spitting on his maid servant as she did not allow her to go out and play with his friend in the absence of his mother who was a working woman.

These are all learned aggressive behaviour coming under social learning. Social learning theory suggests that through observation and imitation of models a lot of behaviour is learnt. Due to hero-worship many boys are found to run, jump, kick and beat. However, in case of girls such actions are less found probably because of discouragement by parents and lack of reinforcement by society.

Many experiments on children prove the concept of social learning theory through observational learning and imitation. A very famous study on learning to show aggression was conducted by Bandura and Ross and Ross The study indicates how children learn to be aggressive by observing an adult aggressive model. In this study they took two groups of nursery school children as samples. The control group was exposed to a quiet non-aggressive amiable adult model. But the experimental group was exposed to an aggressive adult model that kicked a big inflated Bobo Doll, scolded and insulted it. The adult model in the experimental group knocked the doll down, sat on it, pushed it, insulted verbally and threw it several times in the air, punched it repeatedly in the nose.

Later the children of both the groups were allowed to play in a room with several toys including a Bobo Doll. Careful observation of their behaviour revealed that those who had seen the aggressive adult model often imitated his behaviour. They too punched the toy, sat on it and often uttered verbal comments similar to those of the model. On the contrary children of the control group rarely if ever demonstrated such actions of violence and aggression.

The findings of this study prove that children acquire new ways of aggressing through exposure to violent television programmes, movies and aggressive behaviour of his parents, grand-parents and teachers. Social scientists explain the in-disciplined aggressive and ruthless behaviour of many modern youths as a consequence of imitating the same from the above agencies. All learned aggressive behaviour come under social learning. The ability to learn by observing the activities of others in the family or society is due to the cognitive influence of learning. Social learning theory emphasizes the role of learning, especially impact of modeling and operant conditioning techniques of learning.

According to this theory children are rewarded for behaving in accordance with gender stereotypes and gender roles. In this manner their ideas about sex role and sex stereotypes develop. Children usually identify with their own sex models. Rotter who has also contributed to social learning theory is of view that those individuals who strongly believe that they can make and change their own personalities, own destinies they are known as Internals. Norton, Farrell, B. The Standing of Psychoanalysis. Oxford University Press, Fingarette, H. HarperCollins, Freeman, L. The Story of Anna O. Paragon House, Frosh, S. Yale University Press, Gardner, S. Irrationality and the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, University of California Press, Gay, V.

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