Bobo Doll Experiment (Bandura et al.)

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  • In the study, the children were equally divided into 3 groups: 1 had a model being aggressive towards a Bobo doll shown to them, 1 had a model being non-aggressive towards the Bobo doll shown to them, and 1 was a control (no model shown).
  • After watching the video, the children were each taken separately into a room with relatively attractive toys. After they started playing with the toy, the experimenter tell them its their best toys and they are reserving them for other children.
  • Each child was then separately brought into a room with aggressive toys, non-aggressive toys and a Bobo doll. They were left in the room for 20 minutes and their behaviours were recorded.
  • Children who observed the aggressive model were far more aggressive than the children who observed either the non-aggressive model or no model. Boys were more likely to imitate same-sex models than girls, and they were seen being more physically aggressive.
  • The findings support Bandura's Social Learning Theory: children learn social behaviours (e.g. aggression) through observational learning.
  • This study has important implications for the effect of media violence on children.
  • Advantages: Variables other than the independent variable were precisely controlled, ensuring that the result was due to the effect of the model. The experiment can also be replicated showing consistency. Limitations: Low ecological validity (limited social situation and children & model are strangers). Cumberbatch found that children who never played with the Bobo doll before were 5 times as likely to imitate aggressive behaviours than children who were familiar with the doll. Results were measured immediately, thus it is unknown if there will be long-term effects (if so, it would be unetheical). 
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