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Bandura/aggression/Bobo doll study/psychological theories: Bandura’s Bobo doll studies (Bandura 1961(1)) (>Aggression/Bandura) have been criticized since for methodological and ethical reasons.
1) Some critiques have questioned whether Bandura’s study would have been approved by a 21st century IRB [Institutional Review Boards] given the explicit modeling of aggression to which the children were exposed as well as the provocation in denying them access to the attractive toys that was meant to elicit the children’s own aggressive responses.
2) Scholars have questioned the generalizability of the findings given that the child participants were all recruited from the Stanford University preschool, and, thereby, more socioeconomically advantaged than the general population. The original study does not provide information about the children’s race, ethnicity, parents’ education, or other sociodemographic variables that are typically reported in the literature today.
Subsequent research has documented sociodemographic differences in children’s mean levels of aggression. For example, children with more educated parents (Nagin & Tremblay, 2001)(2), from families with fewer stressors (Sanson, Oberklaid, Pedlow, & Prior, 1991)(3), and from two-parent households (Vaden-Kiernan, Ialongno, Pearson, & Kellam, 1995)(4), on average, demonstrate lower levels of aggression than do children with less educated parents, from families with more stressors, and from single parent households, respectively.
However, the lack of attention to sociodemographic characteristics of the children in the original study would only pose a problem if these characteristics moderated links between exposure to an aggressive model and one’s own imitative learning of aggression. To date, evidence of this kind of moderation does not exist. >Aggression/Bandura.
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Some critics have questioned whether the Bobo doll study constitutes evidence regarding children’s imitation of aggression or merely behaviors the children regarded as play. This argument hinges on how aggression is defined. Contemporary researchers generally define aggression as an act perpetrated by one individual that is intended to cause physical, psychological, or social harm to another (Anderson & Bushman, 2002)(5). It is plausible that the intention to harm was missing from children’s imitative behaviors toward the Bobo doll, even if by their nature (e.g., kicking, hitting), they seem aggressive.
1. Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (1961). Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 63, 575—582.
2. Nagin, D. S., & Tremblay, R. E. (2001). Parental and early childhood predictors of persistent physical aggression in boys from kindergarten to high school. Archives of General Psychiatry, 58, 389—394.
3. Sanson, A., Oberklaid, F., Pedlow, R., & Prior, M. (1991). Risk indicators: Assessment of infancy predictors of pre-school behavioral maladjustment. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 32, 609—
4. Vaden-Kiernan, N., Ialongno, N. S., Pearson, J., & Kellam, S. (1995). Household family structure and children’s aggressive behavior: A longitudinal study of urban elementary school children. Journal of
Abnormal Child Psychology, 23, 553—568.
5. Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2002). Human aggression. Annual Review of Psychology,, 53, 27-
Jenifer E. Lansford, “Aggression. Beyond Bandura’s Bobo Doll Studies“, in: Alan M. Slater and Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012