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decreased their tendency to act as she had. When the teacher was praised or ignored (and not punished for her behavior), the children imitated what she did, and even what she said. They punched, kicked, and yelled at the doll.

Watch this video clip about the famous Bobo doll experiment (http://openstax.org/l/bobodoll) to see a portion of the experiment and an interview with Albert Bandura.

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decreased their tendency to act as she had. When the teacher was praised or ignored (and not punished for her behavior), the children imitated what she did, and even what she said.
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What are the implications of this study? Bandura concluded that we watch and learn, and that this learning can have both prosocial and antisocial effects. Prosocial (positive) models can be used to encourage socially acceptable behavior. Parents in particular should take note of this finding. If you want your children to read, then read to them. Let them see you reading. Keep books in your home. Talk about your favorite books. If you want your children to be healthy, then let them see you eat right and exercise, and spend time engaging in physical fitness activities together. The same holds true for qualities like kindness, courtesy, and honesty. The main idea is that children observe and learn from their parents, even their parents’ morals, so be consistent and toss out the old adage “Do as I say, not as I do,” because children tend to copy what you do instead of what you say. Besides parents, many public figures, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, are viewed as prosocial models who are able to inspire global social change. Can you think of someone who has been a prosocial model in your life?

The antisocial effects of observational learning are also worth mentioning. As you saw from the example of Claire at the beginning of this section, her daughter viewed Claire’s aggressive behavior and copied it. Research suggests that this may help to explain why abused children often grow up to be abusers themselves (Murrell, Christoff, & Henning, 2007). In fact, about 30% of abused children become abusive parents (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2013). We tend to do what we know. Abused children, who grow up witnessing their parents deal with anger and frustration through violent and aggressive acts, often learn to behave in that manner themselves. Sadly, it’s a vicious cycle that’s difficult to break.

Some studies suggest that violent television shows, movies, and video games may also have antisocial effects (Figure 6.18) although further research needs to be done to understand the correlational and causational aspects of media violence and behavior. Some studies have found a link between viewing violence and aggression seen in children (Anderson & Gentile, 2008; Kirsch, 2010; Miller, Grabell, Thomas, Bermann, & Graham-Bermann, 2012). These findings may not be surprising, given that a child graduating from high school has been exposed to around 200,000 violent acts including murder, robbery, torture, bombings, beatings, and rape through various forms of media (Huston et al., 1992). Not only might viewing media violence affect aggressive behavior by teaching people to act that way in real life situations, but it has also been suggested that repeated exposure to violent acts also desensitizes people to it. Psychologists are working to understand this dynamic.


Chapter 6 | Learning 217



Figure 6.18 Can video games make us violent? Psychological researchers study this topic. (credit: “woodleywonderworks”/Flickr)

View this video about the connection between violent video games and violent behavior (http://openstax.org/l/videogamevio) to learn more.

Violent Media and Aggression

Does watching violent media or playing violent video games cause aggression? Albert Bandura’s early studies suggested television violence increased aggression in children, and more recent studies support these findings. For example, research by Craig Anderson and colleagues (Anderson, Bushman, Donnerstein, Hummer, & Warbuten, 2015; Anderson et al., 2010; Bushman et al., 2016) found extensive evidence to suggest a causal link between hours of exposure to violent media and aggressive thoughts and behaviors. However, studies by Christopher Ferguson and others suggests that while there may be a link between violent media exposure and aggression, research to date has not accounted for other risk factors for aggression including mental health and family life (Ferguson, 2011; Gentile, 2016). What do think?



218 Chapter 6 | Learning

This OpenStax book is available for free at http://cnx.org/content/col31502/1.4




associative learning

classical conditioning

cognitive map

conditioned response (CR)

conditioned stimulus (CS)

continuous reinforcement


fixed interval reinforcement schedule

fixed ratio reinforcement schedule

higher-order conditioning


latent learning

law of effect



negative punishment

negative reinforcement

neutral stimulus (NS)

observational learning

operant conditioning

partial reinforcement

positive punishment

Key Terms

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