Psychology Article Summary

by Una Freese, June 2014

1200 words

4 pages


The article “Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models” by Albert Bandura, Dorothea Ross & Sheila A. Ross (1961) has become a classical work in the psychological science. The main topic of this work is aggressive behavior displayed by children and the mechanisms that trigger it.

The main goal of the study was to research whether aggression shown by children can be explained by partial or complete imitation of adults’ aggressive models of behavior and to find out what role in formation behavior pattern in early childhood plays imitation. The authors proposed a hypothesis according to which aggressive behavior of children is triggered mainly by the imitation adult behavior. This hypothesis is based on the numerous researches (Grosser, Polansky, & Lippitt, 1951; Rosenblith, 1959; Schachter & Hall, 1952) that stated that the main mechanisms that form behavior patterns in early childhood is following and imitating models of behavior children can observe in the process of interaction with adults. It is also believed that being exposed to aggression will prompt children to imitate aggressive model of behavior in similar social situations even when the model is absent. One more task of the study was to find out whether there is a correlation between aggressive behavior, sex of the subject, and sex of the model. The existence of such correlation is exceptionally important since before this study it was generally accepted that aggression is a typically masculine model of behavior. To prove the hypothesis the authors conducted the experiment involving 74 participants.

The participants of the experiment were children of both sexes visiting Stanford University Nursery’ School whose age varied from 3 to 6 years old. They were divided into eight experimental groups and a control group. Every experimental group consisted of 6 children and the control group consisted of 24 participants. Half of the participants of experimental groups were exposed to aggressive model of behavior and half to non-aggressive. The control group was not exposed to any adult influence. Two adults-- a male and a female also participated in the experiment in the role of models. Before conducting the experiment the researchers measured the initial level of aggression demonstrated by the children in order to receive accurate data and to group children adequately.

In the process of the experiment a subject was supposed to stay in the experimental room full of toys, he or she was involved into playing with potato prints and picture stickers. Meanwhile a model depending on the subject’s group was supposed either to play with the toys suggested for the experiment in a subdued manner or to show aggression towards a big Bobo doll. Aggressive actions were of different kinds and they could be divided into physical aggression, for instance striking the doll with a mallet, kicking it, punching its nose, tossing it in the air, sitting on it; and verbal aggression that included offensive replies and callings for punching and kicking the doll. The model also used several nonaggressive replies in order to check if …

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