What the Bobo Doll Experiment Reveals About Kids and Aggression

Albert Bandura Bobo Doll Experiment Hypothesis Business Management & Leadership October 2021

What the Bobo Doll Experiment Reveals About Kids and Aggression

A social scientist Albert Bandura and other professors at Stanford University experimented in 1961, which has become a classic study of how aggression is learned. The researchers theorized that most people learn through modeling and imitating others’ behaviors.

They used what has come to be known as the Bobo doll experiment in his research on how children imitate behavior. The experiment was conducted with an adult model using a toy called a “Bobo” doll. Albert Bandura hypothesizes that people learn by observing other people’s actions.

The Albert Bandura Bobo Doll Experiment hypothesizes that children who observe adult aggressive behavior will imitate it. They wanted to determine if people who watched the aggressive behavior would act aggressively after seeing what happened in front of their eyes and hearing the sounds coming from them.

The professors chose a toy called “Bobo doll,” which is supposed to represent a human being because it was designed child size and weight as well as shape, so it resembles someone’s head and torso with limbs made fabric or cloths clothes or stuffed animals.

This experiment has been deemed controversial because some believe that the children act aggressively due to frustration from being unable to escape from their situation.

Albert Bandura Bobo Doll Experiment

The experiment was conducted to see how children would behave when they are shown an adult beating up a Bobo doll.

Participants in this study were  36 boys and 36 girls from Stanford University nursery school, all between the ages of 4-6years, with an average age of 4.33years.

In the tests, 24 of the children were subjected to an aggressive model, and 24 others were exposed to a non-aggressive model. Each category was coed to ensure that half of the children were exposed to models of their own gender, while the other half were exposed to models of the opposite sex. The remaining 24 children have developed a control group.

Bandura used a matched pairs design to test his theory of observational learning.  He wanted to see if children would imitate aggressive behaviors they saw on TV.

Note:  A matched pairs design is an experimental design that is used when an experiment only has two treatment conditions. The experiment subjects are grouped together into pairs  some variable they “match” on, such as age or gender. Then, within each pair, subjects are randomly assigned to different treatments.

Children were moved to another room after watching the videos, packed with interesting toys, such as cars, dolls, and a spinning top. The children were invited to play with them. To create tension, they were told two minutes later that they were no longer permitted to play with toys and that they were reserved for other children.

They were told they should play with the toys in the experimental space instead (the aggressive and non-aggressive toys).

In the testing room, the child was permitted to play for 20 minutes while the experimenter examined the children’s play.

The first variable measure documented was physical aggression, such as punching, kicking, sitting on a Bobo doll, hitting it with a mallet, and throwing it around the room. The second measure reported was verbal assault.

The judges counted each time the children imitated the violent adult model and registered the results. The third measure was the number of times the mallet was used to demonstrate other violent methods than hitting the doll. The final measure included forms of violence exhibited by the child that did not specifically mimic the role model’s actions.

The hypothesis states that aggression is learned through observing and modeling behaviors. (When someone sees an aggressive model behave aggressively, they will imitate their actions).

Bobo Doll Experiment Assumptions:

Bandura made four main assumptions in his experiment:

  1. Participants would be more ly to imitate what they saw on TV than what they heard from a speaker.
  2. Children are watching TV for long periods of time.
  3. Television violence is not as graphic or realistic as actual violence.
  4. Repeated exposure to such conditioning leads to increased imitation over time.

Bobo Doll Experiment Independent  & Dependent Variable

What are the dependent and independent variables of this experiment?

The independent variable, or what changes in the experiment, is whether participants were told that they were going to be tested for their response time or not. So without knowing if they had been recorded, some people would hesitate before touching the doll, while others didn’t care about being seen as afraid.

The dependent variable was whether the children were exposed to an aggressive or passive role model. Again, there was the level of aggression displayed by the child towards the Bobo doll.

 Key Finding Of The Bobo Doll Experiment?

The experiments revealed that children who were exposed to adults acting aggressively towards the doll by hitting it and shouting tended to imitate this behavior later when they played with the doll themselves. This would suggest that violent media can have an influence on aggressive behavior in young children.

The Bobo Doll experiment concluded that children would imitate physical actions and emotional responses they see in adults. A mother, for example, may say something “you’re so silly,” which would be interpreted by a child as an indication to laugh.

Children are influenced by their environment and what they see around them; if they observe people laughing or screaming hysterically, they will ly imitate such emotions in their own playtime.

What Did the Bobo Doll Experiment Prove?

The Bobo Doll Experiment proved that children would imitate a person’s behavior when the person is present. Children were given dolls to play with, but they were told not to hit them or hurt them in any way. When adults who had been playing with the doll came and left, many of the children started hitting their own dolls in imitation of what they saw.

Bobo Doll Experiment Ethical Issues

It is possible to argue that the experiment with the bobo doll was unethical and harmful. This is because there is a concern with whether or not the children had no long-term effects as a result of the research. While it’s unthinkable, we can never be sure of that.

Bobo Doll Experiment Conclusion

In the Bobo Doll Experiment, we can see how children play differently with dolls depending on whether they are rewarded for being aggressive or not. This experiment challenges our assumptions about the best way to raise a child and suggests that it might be better to promote non-violent behavior early in childhood to minimize aggression as a part of their repertoire of skills.

This study’s conclusion has challenged all previous theories about how parents should go about raising their children! It seems rewarding kids for being nice rather than punishing them for bad behavior would work wonders when it comes to ensuring that your little one doesn’t become an angry person!

What Are The 3 Key Concepts of Albert Bandura?

Albert Bandura proposed that because we learn through imitation, modeling, and reinforcement, human behavior is a product of our interactions with the environment.

What Is Social Modelling

Cognitive, social learning theory suggests that in order to learn a new behavior, we don’t need to be directly taught. We can emulate the behaviors of others by watching and imitating them. A similar concept is social modeling; this is when we look at how other people behave and adapt our own behaviors accordingly through observation or mimicry.

Examples of Social Modeling in The Classroom

  • Modeling appropriate behavior for students, students are given an opportunity to observe and interact with the teacher to model appropriate social behaviors.
  •  The teacher provides a clear example of how to behave in various situations.
  •  Teachers use modeling, reinforcement, and role-playing to teach students new skills.

How Is Bandura’s Theory Used Today?

Bandura’s social learning theory is a model for understanding human behavior, which states that people learn by observing and modeling others’ actions. The theory has been applied in many different contexts such as education, health care, criminal justice, and sports.

  •  It can be used to understand how people acquire skills or change their behaviors.
  • Bandura’s theory is used to help people understand how outside forces influence their thoughts and actions.
  •  It is also used in the fields of psychology, education, and marketing.
  • Additionally, it has been applied to other areas such as criminal justice and health care.

How Does Albert Bandura’s Theory Different from BF Skinner’s Theory?

BF Skinner’s theory is that a person learns by being rewarded or punished for their behavior. In contrast, Albert Bandura believes that people learn from watching others and then try to imitate those behaviors.

BF Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning is the idea that animals and humans learn through rewards and punishments. In contrast, Albert Bandura’s social learning theory suggests that people can learn from observing others without any reward or punishment.

Bandura also believes that behavior is shaped by what people see in the media, not just their friends or family. Therefore, it is important to teach children about good behaviors in order to promote them.

What Are the Strengths of Social Learning Theory?

Through Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, social learning is immediately apparent. This is because it recognizes that people learn from watching and modeling others in their life. It also takes into account the different levels of rewards or reinforcements people get when they act on what they have learned.

Through this theory, we can see how children may become aggressive if they witness violence at home and come to associate it with success many other kids do.

The strength of the theory is the practicability.  You as a parent can teach your child without being present by showing them things such as good quality TV shows or even telling them stories about situations where someone acted responsibly so they will know what to do in these stressful situations themselves when necessary!

Similarities Between Milgram and Bandura

  •  Both Bandura and Milgram conducted experiments on human behavior. Both Milgram and Bandura were interested in the study of obedience.
  • The two psychologists studied the effects of punishment, rewards, and modeling on learning.
  • They both found that people are most ly to learn through observation or imitation.
  • Bandura’s findings were more influential than Milgram’s because they were less controversial.
  • They both used participants to test their hypotheses.
  • The participant’s role was to be a learner or teacher, respectively.
  • In order for the experiment to work, they had to obey orders from an authority figure.

Источник: https://biznewske.com/albert-bandura-bobo-doll-experiment-hypothesis/

The Bobo Doll Experiment: Kids See, Kids Do

What the Bobo Doll Experiment Reveals About Kids and Aggression

One day, your uncle has to work late, so your dad volunteers to take care of both you and your younger cousin. All in all, besides the addition of another person, your routine doesn’t change. Carter’s school day ends about fifteen minutes before yours does, so your dad drives you straight home normal.

As usual, you do the dishes before doing your homework. Your uncle picks up Carter, you and your father have dinner, and you go to bed. The day is rather uneventful. What’s interesting though is that a few days later, your uncle reports that Carter has been more helpful around the house lately.

In particular, the kid has started to help put away clean dishes before starting his homework.

Here’s Why

Carter engaged in observational learning. After seeing you do the dishes once you got home, Carter later imitates your behavior. 

Bobo Doll Experiment 

This type of social learning was famously studied by Dr. Albert Bandura in his Bobo Doll Experiment. By having children observe an aggressive and nonaggressive model, he was able to prove that human behavior is largely based upon social imitation rather than genetic factors.

The Experiment

The experiment was conducted between 1961 and 1963 at Stanford University. The participants were young children from the university’s nursery school.

They were separated into three main groups and sent individually into a playroom with an adult model. One group observed an adult model aggressively handling a Bobo doll.

The second group was shown an adult model passively playing with other toys. The final group was the control group and thus had no model. 

Children were then primed for mild anger arousal and taken to a playroom filled with many different toys, some aggressive (such as a toy mallet and the Bobo doll) and some not (such as a tea set or crayons). Their play was recorded and judged by observers.

Researchers found that children who witnessed the aggressive model were more ly to handle the Bobo doll aggressively. The boys of the group had an average of 38.2 derivative physical aggressions while the girls had an average of 12.7.

Boys exhibited more aggression when they viewed a male aggressive model than a female aggressive model. Specifically, the number of aggressive behaviors displayed by boys averaged 104 (male aggressive model) compared to 48.

4 (aggressive female model). Similar findings were found for the girls, albeit with less drastic results. Girls averaged 57.7 when they witnessed aggressive female models compared to 36.3 when they witnessed aggressive male models.


Similar results were found even when children were exposed only to videos of adults playing aggressively or passively with Bobo rather than being physically present.

Why Care?

The Bobo Doll Experiment exemplified that punishment and rewards weren’t required to learn. People could learn from observation alone.

In fact, much of how we act and behave comes from watching and learning how those around us act and behave. We’re far less ly to practice what someone preaches than what they actually perform.

Bobo-inspired social learning theories contributed to the development of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Bandura’s findings were particularly relevant in America during the 60s when lawmakers, broadcasters, and the general public were debating over the effects television violence had on the behavior of children.

His experiments sparked further studies not only on observational learning but on aggression- much of the debate and experiments about violent media and video games wouldn’t have happened or be happening without Dr.

Bandura’s research. 

Of course, it’s important to critically examine the experiment and possible limitations. The experiments never tested if the single exposure of aggression had long term effects.

Children unfamiliar with the doll were found in a later experiment to be five times more ly to imitate aggressive play than those familiar with the toy, suggesting that perhaps the novelty of the Bobo doll plays a significant factor.

Critics have argued that the experiment is a poor measure for actual aggressive behavior since Bobo dolls are designed to be hit and pushed around: the clown’s whole appeal is that he bounces back up after he’s hit.

all laboratory studies, it can be argued that the results don’t necessarily translate to real world environments. Despite the shortcomings of the experiment, the Bobo doll proved to be vital to the field of psychology. The Bobo Doll experiment is one that keeps researchers “coming back for more.” 

Источник: https://academy4sc.org/video/the-bobo-doll-experiment-kids-see-kids-do/

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