Bandura (1961) conducted a study to investigate if social behaviors (i.e. aggression) can be acquired by observation and imitation.
By Saul McLeod - Simply Psychology
Bandura, Ross and Ross (1961) tested 36 boys and 36 girls from the Stanford University Nursery School aged between 3 to 6 years old.
The researchers pre-tested the children for how aggressive they were by observing the children in the nursery and judged their aggressive behavior on four 5-point rating scales.
It was then possible to match the children in each group so that they had similar levels of aggression in their everyday behavior. The experiment is therefore an example of a matched pairs design.
To test the inter-rater reliability of the observers, 51 of the children were rated by two observers independently and their ratings compared. These ratings showed a very high reliability correlation (r = 0.89), which suggested that the observers had good agreement about the behavior of the children.
A lab experiment was used, in which the independent variable (type of model) was manipulated in three conditions:
- Aggressive model shown to 24 children
- Non-aggressive model shown to 24 children
- No model shown (control condition) - 24 children
Stage 1: Modeling
In the experimental conditions children were individually shown into a room containing toys and played with some potato prints and pictures in a corner for 10 minutes while either:
24 children (12 boys and 12 girls) watched a male or female model behaving aggressively towards a toy called a 'Bobo doll'. The adults attacked the Bobo doll in a distinctive manner - they used a hammer in some cases, and in others threw the doll in the air and shouted "Pow, Boom".
Another 24 children (12 boys and 12 girls) were exposed to a non-aggressive model who played in a quiet and subdued manner for 10 minutes (playing with a tinker toy set and ignoring the bobo-doll).
The final 24 children (12 boys and 12 girls) were used as a control group and not exposed to any model at all.