You can buy the excellent classic studies dvd from
which features a reconstruction of Bandura's Bobo doll experiment in a
contemporary setting with clear graphics to break down the complicated
A video introduced by Albert Bandura, where he
discusses this study and more, can be bought from www.uniview.co.uk
The video also contains classic clips of the experiment.
The aim of
Bandura's experiment was to demonstrate that if children were
witnesses to an aggressive display by an adult they would imitate
this aggressive behaviour when given the opportunity.
and Ross tested 36 boys and 36 girls aged between 37 to 69 months
(mean = 4 years and 4 months). The role models were one male adult
and one female adult.
were matched on the basis of their pre-existing aggressiveness. They
did this by observing the children in the nursery and judged their
aggressive behaviour 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 behaviour. The
experiment is therefore an example of a matched pairs design.
three main conditions – the aggressive condition, non-aggressive
condition and the control group.
The children in
the aggressive and non-aggressive condition were further subdivided
by sex and the sex of the role model they were exposed to.
complicated design therefore has three independent variables. The
condition the children were exposed to, the sex of the role model
and the sex of the child.
were tested individually
In stage one
of the experiment children were brought to the experimental room by
the experimenter. The room was set out for play and the activities
were chosen because they had been noted to have high interest for
nursery school children. One corner was arranged as the child's
play area, where there was a small table and chair, potato prints
and picture stickers. After settling the child in its corner the
adult model was escorted to the opposite corner of the room where
there was a small table, chair, tinker-toy set, a mallet and a five
foot inflatable Bobo doll. After the model was seated the
experimenter left the experimental room.
non-aggressive condition, the model ignored Bobo and assembled the
tinker-toys in a quiet, gentle manner.
aggressive condition the model began by assembling the tinker-toys,
but after one minute turned to Bobo and was aggressive to the doll
in a very stylised and distinctive way.
minutes the experimenter entered and took the child to a new room
which the child was told was another games room.
In stage two
the child was subjected to 'mild aggression arousal'. The child was
taken to a room with relatively attractive toys. As soon as the
child started to play with the toys the experimenter told the child
that these were the experimenter's very best toys and she had
decided to reserve them for the other children.
Then the child
was taken to the next room for stage three of the study where
the child was told it could play with any of the toys in there. In
this room there was a variety of both non-aggressive and aggressive
The child was
kept in this room for 20 minutes during which time their behaviour
was observed by judges through a one-way mirror. Observations were
made at 5-second intervals therefore giving 240 response units for
of imitation were obtained. The observers looked for responses from
the child that were very similar to the display by the adult model.
Imitation of physical aggression (for example, punching the doll in
verbal aggression (for example, repeating the phrases "Pow!" or
"Sock him in the nose".
Imitative non-aggressive verbal responses (for example child repeats
“He keeps coming back for more”)
recorded other types of physical and verbal aggressive behaviours
that were not complete imitations of the adult model:
enabled the researchers to consider
children imitate the models,
models the children imitate
(c) Whether the
children showed a general increase in aggressive behaviour or a
specific imitation of the adult behaviours.
The children in the aggressive model condition made more aggressive
responses than the children in the non-aggressive model
Boys made more aggressive responses than girls;
The boys in the aggressive model conditions showed more aggressive
responses if the model was male than if the model was female;
The girls in the aggressive model conditions also showed more
physical aggressive responses if the model was male but more
verbal aggressive responses if the model was female;
(However, the exception to this general pattern was the
observation of how often they punched Bobo, and in this case the
effects of gender were reversed).
support Bandura's Social Learning Theory. That is, children learn
social behaviour such as aggression through the process of
observation learning - through watching the behaviour of another