(Original post by LeaX)
Today I did three essays focussing on social psychological theories of aggression and I was wondering if anyone could mark or give pointers for them please. I know they're quite short but no matter how fast I write that is all I can manage lol. Thank you.
Outline one social psychological theory of aggression (8 + 16 marks)
Tarde proposed the key characteristics of behaviour imitation, which can be applied to aggression. He suggested that the behaviour of a role model is adopted due to the following characteristics. First, a behaviour to copy, as well as contact with such behaviour. Then, the behaviour is copied if there is an understanding behind it.
Bandura further developed this in his social cognitive approach where he suggested that the social environment and individual’s cognitive processes were linked – reciprocal determinism. According to Social Learning theory (SLT) proposed by Bandura, aggression can be learnt through modelling, i.e. observing and imitating the aggressive behaviour of other people. Aggression is learnt by direct experience or by vicarious reinforcement (we learn to be aggressive orselves by observing others being rewarded for their aggressive behaviour). Bandura explained aggression’s cause is due to paying attention to an aggressive role model, retaining this behaviour in our memory, reproducing the aggression and having motivation to continue to do so, for example by being rewarded for it – vicarious reinforcement.
Additionally, Bandura said we need an aggressive role model who is similar to us (eg age or gender) or in a position of power (eg a teacher) as well as confidence in ourselves to imitate (self-efficacy).
for extra A01 marks: The observer will develop expectancies of future outcomes based on their experiences and observational learning which will determine their actions. Whether they continue to repeat similar actions will be impacted on by the outcome of their own actions and any direct reinforcement and their self-efficacy (the belief that a behaviour is within an observer's ability to perform) relating to those behaviours
Support for social learning theory (SLT) comes from Bandura et al’s bobo doll study. A group of 72 child participants were placed in one of three groups – aggressive role model, non-aggressive role model or no role model. They found that those who had witnessed an aggressive role model hitting and shouting were more likely to be aggressive. This supports SLT that aggression can be caused by imitating a role model, increasing the validity of SLT.
However, the bobo doll study had a methodological flaw; as only children were used it can’t be applied to adults. Also such a study may be better at explaining how children learn aggressive behaviour rather than adults. Children have a natural desire to please adults. They may have purposel replicated the adult’s behaviour to please them rather than just passively copying it. Therefore, we can’t be sure that the same results will be seen with adults and so the population validity decreases.
In addition, a criticism of the bobo doll study is its artificial, laboratory setting. We can’t apply the findings of this specific setting to the outside World where a myriad of outside variables interplay. Aggression may be altered by such factors and so we can’t validate the theory through this study.
better evaluation points: It is also possible that in Bandura’s study, children were displaying behaviour they believed was expected of them (Demand Characteristics) thus making the behaviour observed lacking realism and validity.
Also the study was measuring aggressive behaviour towards a “bobo doll” and not a real person who may be inclined to fight back.
Children are aware that such a doll is not real, nor is there any fear of it fighting back hence the behaviour being demonstrated may also lack generalisation to real acts of aggression to real people.
SLT has been criticised for being reductionist. Whilst SLT has been found to play a role in aggressive behaviour there is however significant evidence to suggest other approaches play a significant role in causing aggression.
It fails to consider a myriad of factors of aggression and reduces complex human behaviour to just a case of copying others.
The biological approach suggest that aggression is due to hormonal, neural or evolutionary explanations. For example, in a study of mice which were castrated, it was found that aggression decreased suggesting that testosterone is a significant cause.
SLT should aim to cover a wider range of factors as presently it ignores many. Aggression is likely to be due to many factors and so a more holistic approach should be used when studying aggression.
SLT is also very deterministic. It negates to consider our free will in place of passively imitating aggression. Such view has implications to the violence and aggression our societyis subjected to in films and video games.
Outline one social psychological theory of aggression (8 + 16 marks)
Deindividuation is the loss of one’s identity. Such is the case when an individual is placed in a large group or when masked as an observation of 1300 trick-or-treaters by Diener found. When large groups were present or when individuals were masked, antisocial behaviour (such as stealing sweets) was more likely. It has been said that when individuals are in a situation where our identification is difficult or impossible, normal standards of behaviour shift as there is decreased self-assessment of our behaviour and whether we are acting appropriately.
Zimbardo conducted a study using female undergraduates as ‘teachers’ and confederate ‘students’ in a study of learning. Students were asked to complete a set of tasks and if performed incorrectly would be shocked by the teacher half of the teachers were deindividuated by wearing laboratory coats and hoods and the other group was individuated by large name tags, normal clothes and formal introductions.
Zimbardo’s findings support deindividuation. He found that the deindividuated group delivered twice as many shocks. This shows that when there is a loss of identity we are more likely to act aggressively. This increases the validity of the theory.
However, a flaw was the gender bias sample of only females. We can’t be sure that men will respond to deinviduation in the same way and so we can’t generalise the results, and therefore the theory, to males which decreases its population validity.
A criticism of deindividuation comes from Gergen et al’s who placed 12 people in a dark room to deindividuate them with no instructions. According to deindividuation, aggression should have ensued but instead after one hour 80% of the group claimed to be sexually aroused. Thus assuming deinviduation leads to aggression is overly simplistic.
In addition, it is very deterministic. It suggests that the presence of a large group or mask takes away our free-will to act however we choose to.
Deinviduation has proven to be pro-social. In a study of those with speech impediments, it was found that when masked their condition improved. This has been suggested to be due to decreased evaluative apprehension (worrying of other’s opinion of you). The theory can therefore be applied to those who suffer anxiety and be used to help in treatment.
Deinviduation is a reductionist explanation of aggression. Whilst deindividuation has been found to play a role in aggressive behaviour there is however significant evidence to suggest other approaches play a significant role in causing aggression. It fails to consider the biological approach which suggest that aggression is caused by genetics, hormones, neural factors or evolution. Biological approaches are easy to study due to their quantifiable, scientific tests whilst social psychological theories of aggression are usually limited by ethical issues of purposely causing aggression. For example, in a study of mice which were castrated, it was found that aggression decreased suggesting that testosterone is a significant cause.
Biological approaches to aggression are also limited as they are based on animal research, decreasing their validity when applied to humans.
Biological approach is one of the nature side whilst social psychological is nurture. Aggression is likely to be due to an interplay of both and so the two theories should instead take a more holistic approach. (I don't think this is relevant)
Discuss institutional aggression (8+16 marks)
Institutional aggression refers to the aggression seen in groups where there is a collective objective to act aggressively, for example in the police force or terrorist groups. This can be caused by situational forces (factors present in social situations which can cause aggression) or dispositional forces (personality traits of individuals which made them more likely to be aggressive).
Situational forces were supported as an explanation of aggression during Zimbardo’s Stanford prison experiment. 24 males, all deemed psychologically healthy, were randomly allocated role of prisoner or guard. Zimbardo found that those made guard displayed aggression by degrading treatment of prisoners. He explained this by saying it was the adoption of the role of guard which made the participants aggressive. This increases the validity of the situational theory of institutional aggression
The study has been supported by the real case of the Abu Gharib prison where Iraqi prisoners were subjected to dehumanising treatment by US soldiers which Zimbardo defended by saying it was due to the situation. This shows that his study has ecological validity.
However, the situational view of aggression is very deterministic. It suggest that our environment can cause dramatic changes to the moral standards of our behaviour without free-will not to be aggressive.
Dispositional forces explain Abu Gharib as the result of a few ‘bad apples’ influencing others. This acknowledges individual differences. However, this technique is used when the police are in trouble so it is assumed to be used to depersonalise bad cops from the morally superior institution to avoid the wrath of the public.
Studies into terrorism deal with institutional aggression. It has been suggested that situational forces are responsible such as opposition to Western ideals of democracy and a liberal society. Others argue that it is due to individualistic forces. For example, shame, esteem and repressed anger. This gives insight into suicidal bombers however when applied to the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorists who had supportive families and were materially affluent it is questionable.
Security forces have also been considered in institutional aggression. This includes the cynical, secretive nature of police work as well as the inability to deal with work-related stressors. This is supported by a study showing that aggression is caused by repressed anger.
Overall, institutional aggression is very limited as it fails to give a holistic view of aggression. Instead if focuses only on aggression in institutions, decreasing its external validity.
It also focuses on nurture on the nature-nurture debate. It ignores biological factors such as testosterone, depletion of serotonin, neural causes and evolution. Thus it is very reductionist, decreasing its validity.
have you got the new third edition book? I recommend you use that.
social psychological theory (I made some changes in red please look at the spoiler) - A01 is quite good - I would give it 5/8, you don't need to include the first paragraph.
You could change the second paragraph - you need to also include - expectancies of future outcomes, direct reinforcement and self efficacy relating to those behaviours learnt.
include this for extra A01 marks: ''The observer will develop expectancies of future outcomes based on their experiences and observational learning which will determine their actions. Whether they continue to repeat similar actions will be impacted on by the outcome of their own actions and any direct reinforcement and their self-efficacy (the belief that a behaviour is within an observer's ability to perform) relating to those behaviours.''
Now A02 is where it goes all wrong - I would give it 8/16.
You only included one study and IDA is not correct.
You could also include this study for SLT essay:
Bandura & Walters
conducted a separate study to try and identify why a child would be motivated to perform the same aggressive behaviours in the absence of a model.
Children were divided into 3 groups with each seeing a different ending to a film of an adult model behaving aggressively towards a bobo doll.
Group 1 saw the model rewarded for showing aggressive behaviour,
Group 2 saw the model punished for showing aggressive behaviour,
Group 3 observed the model but there were no consequences for the aggressive behaviour.
They found that children who saw the model rewarded for aggression showed a higher level of aggression in their own play whereas those who saw the model punished showed a low level of aggression in their play.
Bandura claimed that this type of vicarious learning supported social learning theory as children were basing their behaviour on the likely consequences and shaping it accordingly.
A question regarding this study is whether punishment prevented learning or simply performance of the aggressive behaviour.
Bandura conducted another study but on this occasion all children in the 3 groups were rewarded for performing aggressive acts after exposure to the model.
The findings were all three groups performed similar levels of behaviour.
This shows that learning does take place regardless of the reinforcements, but the reinforcements themselves are related in the behaviour actually being demonstrated.
good study to support SLT:
SLT can explain cultural differences in aggression. For example, within the !Kung San tribe of the Kalahari Desert aggression is extremely rare and this is believed to be due to the child-rearing practices of the tribe having a social learning effect.
However, according to the social learning theory, aggressive behaviour is the product of learning experiences that the child has experienced prior to the actual production of any aggressive behaviour in the future. Therefore, SLT is deterministic.
never say SLT and Deindividuation are reductionist because they aren't and you will lose marks, reductionism only refers to reducing behaviour to a lower level of explanation. (there was an examiner report on this saying that reductionism was regularly misused for cognitive, evolutionary and behavioural approaches) But you can write SLT is limited
For deindividuation essay, you A01 is weak I would give it 4/8,
you need to include:
- Being deindividuated means to lose ones sense of individuality and identity.
- When individuals feels less identifiable they engage in less inhibited behaviour
- Le Bon pointed out that when part of a large anonymous group, individuals are more likely to behave in an anti social and aggressive manner because crowds create a 'collective mindset'
- As a consequence, the individual loses self-control and becomes capable of acting in a way that goes against social or personal norms.
- In crowds a 'collective mindset' is created and the group acts as one; Le Bon termed this as a Mob. The individual becomes submerged in the group and feels less identifiable leading to less inhibited behaviour. Loss of inhibition means that individuals are not so constrained by internal standards if acceptable behaviour
- Important factors that contribute to Deindividuation - anonymity, the feeling of reduced responsibility in the crowd, increased arousal, sensory overload and altered consciousness due to drugs or alcohol
A02 is quite good, i would give it 12/16, just a few criticisms:
-Deindividuation is not reductionist
-A better and famous study you could use for criticising deindividuation theory is a study by Johnson and Downing (Dindividuation does not necessarily lead to aggression)
- Johnson and Downing found that rather than aggression being an automatic consequence of deindividuation, behaviour was more likely to be the product of group norms. They found - participants dressed in kkk style clothing delivered more shocks but participants dressed as nurses actually shocked less regardless of whether they were identifiable or anonymous.
- ..suggests that the social role plays a greater part in aggression than the fact that you are deindividuated.
Institutional aggression essay - sorry, I'm not sure about this one but don't you have to talk about importation and deprivation model?
Keep writing essays in timed conditions and you will see an improvement in how much you can write. Please have a read through the changes I made. Overall your essays are good but you need more A01, A01 is easy marks, for A02 you should include about 3 or 4 studies and talk about methodological issues with each one if you can and when you make an IDA point, cite a study and its findings for extra marks.
I hope this has helped.