How a Child Learns

How A Child Learns

This short report outlines ways in which children can learn new behaviours by watching others, which is labelled ‘Social Learning’. Over the years many psychologist have carried out research to better understand how children’s behaviours are influenced, Albert Bandura and colleagues carried out one of these studies in the early 1960’s. This group of psychologist predicted that children would imitate aggressive acts observed in certain conditions. They also were investigating what factors effect the child’s behaviour, such as the gender of the adult.

The Study

The experiment by Bandura et al. (1963), as cited by Brace and Byford, comprised of ninety-six children aged between 35 and 69 months (around 3-6 years), with an equal numbers of boys and girls, at Stanford University. Bandura and colleagues carefully divided the children into four groups of 24, each child participating individually. All groups underwent similar procedures but with a slight variance in the exposure to violence.

The experiment centred on an inflatable Bobo doll. The study alternated between male and female adults, known as models, behaving aggressively towards the doll for the children to observe. The four groups were as follows:

 Group 1 observed a live model behaving aggressively towards the Bobo doll.
 Group 2 observed a film of the live model behaving aggressively towards the Bobo doll.
 Group 3 observed a film of a ‘fantasy’ model, cat-like creature, behaving aggressively towards the Bobo doll.
 Group 4 did not observe any aggressive behaviour towards the Bobo doll.

The child was then lead into a second room where there were many toys. Once they started to play the experimenter told the child that these were the best toys and they are going to be saved for some other children. The child was informed that they could play with the toys in a third room. This room had many varieties of toys from dart guns to cuddly toys plus a Bobo...