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Social Learning Theory

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Social learning theory is the theory that people learn behaviours though observation of other people and their environment. The theory is that all children are born neither good nor bad, but they are influenced throughout their lives, the development of behaviour is continuous throughout our lives, rather than stopping at a certain time. From an early age children can get influenced, by watching how their parents behave, if their parents are violent and aggressive, and then the children are likely to imitate this behaviour. Thing such as cartoons can influence a Childs behaviour, for example Tom and Jerry is a cartoon with lots of violence in, also having no consequence, this influences children to think that violence is okay and there are no consequences to this behaviour. Another example of how a child can be influenced by a cartoon but in a positive way is Scooby-Doo when a child watches this they will see that the ‘bad guy’ always gets found and sent to prison, this shows a child that there are consequences to that sort of behaviour, so they are less likely to imitate it.

An experiment has been done to back up social learning theory; this was the Bobo doll experiment. This experiment was carried out by Bandura. In the experiment there were 36 boys and 36 girls between the ages of 3-6, they were split into 3 groups of 24. The first group watched an adult model behave aggressively to the Bobo doll, by hitting it and throwing it. The second group watched an adult model behave non-aggressively towards the Bobo doll. And the third group wasn’t exposed to any model. From observing how the first group of children behaved towards the Bobo doll was aggressive, but they did worse things to the doll then their model did. The second group played with the doll nicely like how their model did. And the third group did similar, just play nicely.

This experiment shows how children are influenced by what they see, from watching an adult do something aggressive, they then think its okay to be aggressive, and often do worse things than what they see.( http://www.simplypsychology.org/bobo-doll.html, 2013) Social learning theory should be applied to Ben, the use of role models is essential to him. By Ben having people around who are nice, non-aggressive people, this should influence Ben to be like this too, then if it doesn’t, the people who are nice and non-aggressive should get rewarded, but not Ben, this should make him want to be good then so he can get his reward. Having a good role model is good for Ben, this could be fictional or non-fictional role model, by Ben looking up to someone and wanting to be like someone who is good, will then go onto influence him to try and be more like that person.

Ben should not be allowed to play aggressive video games, because this will influence his behaviour and he is likely to be more aggressive and violent then, also with TV and cartoons, he shouldn’t be allowed to watch things with violence and aggression in, unless there are consequences that come to the aggression and violence showing that it’s bad. By doing all these things for Ben it should influence his behaviour, and change it to a more positive and less aggressive behaviour, and make it easier for staff and other residents to be able to handle him.


McLeod, S. (2011). Bobo Doll Experiment. Available: http://www.simplypsychology.org/bobo-doll.html. Last accessed 19th Oct 2013

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