Detail How and Why Research by Bandura and Colleagues on Social Learning and Aggression Has Contributed to Our Understanding of Children’S Behaviour

Aims and Objectives:

• To gain an understanding of how the study was conducted
• Learn why this has contributed to how to our understanding of children’s behaviour
• Understand how the study has affected our understanding of children’s behaviour
• To identify some of the key limitations of this type of study


In 1963 a study was conducted by Bandura et al. to determine the extent to which children would imitate aggressive behaviour that they saw performed by someone else.

The study was conducted using 96 children, equal numbers of boys and girls of an average age of 4 years and 4 months.

The experiment was conducted across three distinct play rooms each containing a variety of toys; the first was where the children would be exposed to the aggressive behaviour by a model. This behaviour was directed at a certain toy, a ‘bobo’ doll. The doll was kicked, punched, thrown in the air and sat on.

In the second room the children were exposed to a situation designed to create a mild sense of frustration. The children were allowed to play with nice new toys a limited time before being told that they were no longer allowed to play with them as they were to be saved for other children.

The third was where the child’s own behaviour would be monitored.

The toys in the room included the ‘Bobo’ doll, which would be the focus of the aggressive behaviour that the children would be exposed to, a mallet, toy guns, a tea set, crayons and paper, and a wide range of other standard children’s toys.

The children taking part in the study were broken down into four groups with 24 children per group, each group being exposed to a different type of aggressive behaviour:

Group 1 – was accompanied by an adult who after a short while of playing would start to show aggressive behaviour towards the doll.

Group 2 – was shown a video recording of an adult behaving aggressively toward the doll.

Group 3 – was shown a cartoon of a fictional character...