Bandura's Bobo Doll Study

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A serial killer is defined as a person who commits at least 3 murders over a period of more than a month, typically following a characteristic, predictable behaviour pattern (Fbigov, 2018). This essay will critically evaluate the different explanations for why someone would commit serial murders, with reference to reductionism. Reductionism is the belief that human behaviour can be easily explained by breaking it down into its constituent components. It is based on the scientific assumption of parsimony which is the idea that complex phenomena such as mental processes should be explained within the framework of basic sciences e.g. physiology, chemistry (Simplypsychologyorg, 2018). Psychological theories of crime look at the differences in individual…show more content…
Another explanation of criminal behaviour is demonstrated by the social learning theory. Socialisation can take many forms, including friends, family, media and influences in a person's life, such as school and religion (Bordens & Horowitz, 2002). The social learning theory suggests that it is through these influences that aggression can stem from. Bandura (1961) suggested that aggressive behaviour is learned in either one of 2 ways; by direct experience which is based on operant conditioning or by vicarious (indirect) experience which is based on observational learning. This was demonstrated in Bandura’s 'Bobo Doll Study' which involved male and female participants from 3 to 5 years old with half the participants exposed to aggressive models interacting with a life-sized inflatable Bobo doll whilst the other half were exposed to models with no aggression. Children in the aggressive condition repeated most of the physical and verbal aggressive behaviour whereas children in the non-aggressive showed virtually no aggression. The findings support the Social Learning theory as the aggressive behaviour displayed came directly from watching an aggressive model (Bandura,…show more content…
However, although the theory has many strong points it also has its weaknesses such as the fact that the Social Learning Theory is also reductionist in the sense that is ignores biological factors. The environmental approach doesn't look at brain structures or possible learning difficulties and therefore the results collected could lack validity. Finally, one of the main issues with the Social Learning Theory's research studies; in particular Bandura is the fact that it seen as very unethical and also morally wrong to encourage the children to be aggressive. Although unlikely, it is possible there may have been some long-term consequences of encouraging aggressive behaviour in children. Bandura’s study has many widespread implications regarding the effects of the media.

One limitation of both approaches is the definition of serial killers is very limited. A serial killer is defined as someone who commits three or more murders in the space of month. It is arguable as to whether this definition is appropriate as not all serial killers fall under this category. As a result of this, the research used might lack validity as many serial murderers may have been excluded from the research due to the fact they don’t fit the

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