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).