Deindividuation is when people lose their sense of individual identity. Most individuals would normally refrain from aggression because they don’t want to be held to blame for their actions – but in situations such as crowds, social restraints and personal responsibility are perceived to be lessened, so displays of aggressive behaviour occur.
It can be said that as a result of normative social influence, deindividuation causes people to unquestioningly follow group norms instead of personal norms, which sometimes leads individuals to display aggressive behaviour.
Zimbardo sees people in crowds as being anonymous, with lessened awareness of individuality and a reduced sense of guilt, or fear of punishment. The bigger the crowd, the more this will be.
Prentice-Dunn and Rogers (1982) believe that individuals normally have awareness of personal moral codes, but being in a crowd diminishes private awareness, so instead they follow the group norms.
+ Research support – There has been a great deal of research supporting this theory, for example:
- Malmuth and Check (1981) – found that nearly a third of male university students in the US would rape if there was no chance of them getting caught.
- Zimbardo (1963) – replicated Milgram’s electric shock study, but the participant was either individuated with a name tag or deindividuated by wearing a hood. The deindividuated participants gave more shocks, supporting the idea of deindividuation.
- Diener et al (1976) – found that anonymous ‘trick-or-treating’ children in the USA took more money or sweets than non-anonymous children, supporting the notion of deindividuation.
- Watson (1973) – conducted a cross-cultural study and found that warriors who disguised their appearance – for example, through face paint – tended to be more aggressive, suggesting that deindividuation effects are universal.
+ Application of theory – The theory of deindividuation can help us reduce aggression, for example using obvious CCTV cameras at events such as football matches has been shown to reduce violence levels.
– Pro-social behaviour – Deindividuation in crowds can lead to increased pro-social behaviour, for example religious gatherings.
– Doesn’t affect everyone – The idea that people lose their personal moral codes when deindividuated is evidently not true, as many people are not negatively affected by crowds.
– Football hooliganism and ritualised behaviour – Deindividuation has been used to explain the phenomenon of football hooliganism. However, Marsh et al (1978) found that mainly ritualised behaviour occurred at football matches, with actual violence being rare. So football crowds aren’t acting aggressively, but just in a ritualised way.
This article throws light upon the top three theories of aggression. The theories are: 1. Instinct Theory of Aggression 2. Frustration Aggression Hypothesis 3. Social Learning Theory.
1. Instinct Theory of Aggression:
The instinct theory of aggression was advanced by Sigmund Freud (1927) the great psychoanalyst of yester years. In his earlier writings, Freud was of view that all human behaviour originates either directly or indirectly from ‘EROS’, the life instinct, which helps in reproduction of life.
In this back ground aggression was considered simply as a reaction to the blocking of libidinal impulses. Thus, it was neither an automatic nor an inevitable part of life.
But in course of psychoanalysis and particularly after the second world war Freud gradually came to know the presence of two basic urges such as Eros and Thantos or life instinct and death instinct instead of one instinct (Life instinct) held earlier.
Thus revising his earlier view on instincts he wrote. After long doubts and vacillations we have decided to assume the existence of only two basic urges Eros or the Life instinct and Thantos or the Destructive instinct.
Thus Freud with experience and analysis gradually came to adopt the nature of human aggression, and proposed a second major instinct named the Thantos, the force of death or destruction whose energy in directed towards the destruction or termination of life, towards hatred, anger and violence and towards all sorts of aggressive feelings, actions, dealings and behaviours.
He thus held that all human behaviour including aggressive behaviour stems from the complex interaction between the instinct of Eros and Thantos and the constant tension between them.
Freud held that the death instinct is unrestrained and results in self destruction. So he indicated that through other mechanisms like displacement, the energy of Thantos i.e. aggression is redirected out ward so that it serves as the basis for aggression against others instead of destructing the self.
Thus in Freud’s view aggression originates primarily from the redirection of self destructive death instinct away from the person towards others. The instinct theory of aggression was not much developed by Freud in the beginning. But later on, he and his associates worked on it and attempted to explain it in detail.
The instinct theory of aggression originates from the instinct of death or destruction. Physiologically the death instinct represents the force which tend to destroy the organic life and to lead organic matter back to the inorganic state.
Psychologically the death instinct gives rise to hostile and aggressive behaviour, to aggressive sexual activity or to self and race destruction. Thus love and hatred, pleasure and pain, life and death instincts go side by side. The death instinct otherwise known as the instinct of aggression is also expressed in destructive and aggressive intellectual activities such as criticism, satire and taunts.
According to the instinct theory of aggression, aggression is a global instinctive, steam boiler like force which Freud and his associates argue is urgently required and basically inevitable for self preservation as well as reproduction. McDougall has also denoted the phenomenon of aggression in the instinct of combat on the basis of the instinct theory of aggression first postulated by Freud, Miller, Dollard and others.
According to Freud when we analyze the desire for love we also find some desire for aggression. Thus the best loved friend becomes the bitterest enemy when both fall out. In our hence attitude towards every stimulus there is the desire for love as well as aggression.
The instinct theory of aggression holds that aggression is inherited and biological in nature and is expressed overtly and covertly i.e., outwardly and internally. Subsequently Freud had decided there is no use in trying to get rid of man’s aggressive inclinations.
His positive social proposals were to break up human societies in to small communities through which the aggressive instinct can find an outlet in enmity towards those outside the group in a conveniently and relatively harmless form.
Freud holds that life and death instincts are primary instincts and all other instincts are derived from these. But recently Freud’s concept of aggressive instinct or death instinct, which he said is the basis for conflict between human groups, has been discarded.
The instinct theory of Freud (1927) is said to be the starting point but not the corner stone of psychoanalysis. Psychologists working in the area of frustration and aggression have in fact found that aggression in not instinctive, but it develops as a reaction to frustration of basic urges experienced during early childhood period.
According to Alexander “Fear of the consequences of losing love because of jealousy gives rise to aggression. No matter whether love or hate are instinctual or early acquired, they are always with us. The facts of love and hate are psychological data independent of the theory.”
The two instincts advanced by Freud are not mutually opposed to each other. Behaviour originated by life instinct may have strong components of death instinct and behaviour mainly motivated by death instinct may have strong components of life instinct. Same psychologists object to the death instinct advanced by Freud.
They say death instinct is a part of life instinct and hence it not justified to introduce it as a separate instinct. Some biologists also go against the aggressive instinct advanced by Freud. They argue that life instinct motivates an organism to live and to do whatever is possible for the sake of living. It is due to this that we are organisms. If we wish death, how could we be called organisms?
Recent by Freud’s conception of aggressive instinct (death or destructive instinct) which he said is the basis for conflict between human groups has been discarded. Research findings earlier mentioned indicate that the view about innate drive for aggression or destruction is not correct since in most of the instances aggression is found to be due to frustration arising out of early childhood experiences.
Social learning and imitation also induce aggression. Aggression may occur due to some hormonal and biological factors, but it is not instinctive as Freud held.
According to Berkowitz (1962) Research findings offer little support for Freud’s reasoning. He held that the view of an innate drive for destruction can be attacked both factually and logically.
The group for advancement of psychiatry (1964) formally rejected the instinct theory of aggression advanced by Freud and held “war is a social institution; it is not inevitably rooted in the nature of man.” These conclusions are supported by studies during Second World War.
The great majority of soldiers reported that their reason for fighting was to get the job done or the desire not to let their outfits down. Only 2 percent said that they fought out of anger, revenge or fighting spirit. Another 3percent gave replies that might be interpreted as aggressive such as crushing or cutting the aggressor piece by piece.
The men in the front or boarder where expression of aggression would have been maximum and in accordance with their actions expressed very few aggressive feelings. But it was however noticed that soldiers in the training camps where aggression, hostility and combat is part of the training, most frequently expressed hatred and aggressive feelings for the enemy.
Though some critics of Freud hold that the instinct theory of aggression is now considered a matter of historical importance and though recent psychologists have discarded the term instinct from the glossary of psychology the instinct theory has its importance in view of the fact that all researches on theories of aggression have been reinforced by Freud’s theory of aggression.
Freud and his followers did not believe that aggression can be completely uprooted. They however viewed that the intensity of aggression can be reduced by the promotion of positive emotional attachment among people with the help of substitute out lets such as engagement in adventure works like sports, swimming, athletics, mountaineering, space travel, Karate, Judo etc.
Observations of animals in their natural habitats led some psychologists to view that aggressive drive has an innate, biological or instinctive basis. In the opinion of Konrad Lorenz, aggression which causes physical harm to others starts from a fighting instinct that human beings share with other organisms. The energy associated with this instinct is spontaneously produced in individuals at a more or less constant rate.
The probability of aggression increases as a function of the amount of stored energy and the presence and strength of aggression releasing stimuli. According to him aggression is inevitable and at times spontaneous outbursts of powerful feelings occur like volcanic irruption.
Lorenz considers aggression as a “true, primarily species preserving instinct”, in humans as well as in animals. Though observation of animal behaviour suggests that the innate instinct of aggression drives animals to aggressive behaviour, the same should not be generalized in case of human beings, and such generalization if made by anybody is highly questionable.
There are in fact major differences between human aggression and animal aggression. While animal aggression can be controlled and regulated by immediate changes in the stimulus, human aggression can be maintained by mediating cognitive structures and to a much smaller degree stimulus bound. (Feshbach)
Thus the issue of biological basis of aggression is a controversial one and needs further debate. But according to Mussen, Conger & Kagan there is strong possibility that constitutional factors play a significant role in human aggression. They further view that sex differences in aggressive behaviour most likely have a biological basis.
It is found that experimental administration of hormone of male monkeys, pigs to female rat’s pigs and monkey makes them much more aggressive in their approaches to others. Further it is seen that activity level of a person is connected with his constitution. An active child is more found to be involved in aggressive encounters.
2. Frustration Aggression Hypothesis:
Miller and Dollard in their stimulating yet no less illuminating book “Frustration and Aggression” define frustration as “that condition which exists when a goal response suffers interference.” Frustrating events are those which block the individual’s goal oriented behaviour, threaten his sell’ esteem or deprive him of the opportunity to gratify his important motives and immediate goals.
When an event or situation disturbs or upsets the child or the adult, it is considered frustrating. But a situation which is considered frustrating for one person may not be frustrating for another person. Here parental training, social class, economic status and early childhood training for frustration tolerance play their role.
Freud probably for the first time gave the term frustration a scientific basis. Frustration in simple terms may be defined as that state in the organism which exists as a consequence of interference in the goal oriented behaviour and gives rise to a number of maladaptive or substituted reactions.
A person who fails to marry his sweet heart because of parental rejection and social restrictions is said to be suffering from severe frustration.
Frustration during childhood may arise from several sources because of his helplessness at birth. The famous German psycholosist Ottorank held that birth cry indicates the greatest frustration in human life. The pangs of separation from the mother acts as a tremendous source of frustration.
Minor interferences however may bring mild and brief reactions of aggression. The view of Freud and his followers that aggression is an instinct and innate drive has been rejected by later psychologists like Miller; Bollard and many others. They have proposed that it is a frustration instigated drive.
The Frustration-Aggression hypothesis proposed by Miller Bollard and others (1939) is a significant contribution is tracing the causes of aggression. This hypothesis states that aggression is always a consequence of frustration. Miller applied this hypothesis to the Negroes of U.S.A. to study their reaction as a consequence to the frustration imposed by the white groups.
Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis postulates the following:
1. A thwarting person’s efforts to reach a goal induces an aggressive drive in him which in turn triggers off a behaviour to injure or destroy the person or object which has caused the frustration.
2. The expression of aggression reduces the desire for it.
The key aspect of the hypothesis is that aggression is the measure and fundamental reaction to frustration though other responses like regression, withdrawal, reaction formation and displacement etc. may occur.
According to this hypothesis aggression is not inborn but is a learned behaviour. Since frustration is found universally aggression is also found universally, they say, and hence frustration may be considered as a drive.
Marke and Ervin (1970) further view that even though the presence of some genetic or biological factors in aggression cannot be ruled out in case of human beings, these mechanism are under the cognitive control of man. A person with a particular brain injury may react aggressively to situations which may not give rise to any aggressive response in case of a normal person without brain injury.
This indicates that a normal person has cognitive control capacity where as a brain injured person lacks this. In normal persons the frequency with which the aggressive behaviour is expressed, the form it takes and the situations in which it is displayed are determined greatly by learning and socio-cultural factors.
The proponents of the Frustration Aggression hypothesis advocate that aggression is always a consequence of frustration of some sort. They further say “although these reactions may be temporarily compressed, delayed, disguised, displaced and otherwise deflected from their immediate and logical goals, they are not destroyed. It is therefore inevitable that aggression follows frustration.”
This hypothesis by far is said to be most influential model for intergroup prejudice and aggression. This theory briefly holds that frustration produces aggression which acts as a drive or motive to react, combat or make attacks.
Supporting the frustration—aggression hypothesis or drive theory of aggression, Newcomb opines “Frustration always induces motivation of some kind of aggression and if no aggression occurs, it has been inhibited.”
If the frustration is produced by a powerful person like the employer, or the boss, the teacher, the husband or in laws, the parents, the aggressive reaction is inhibited. My grandson Anuraag when wants to view cartoon net work in television his father objects strongly.
Anuraag inhibits his aggression towards his father and withdraws from the Television. But when the maid servant asks him not to see cartoon net work, immediately he shouts at her and sometimes gives her a kick. Thus members of the out group who are considered less powerful become suitable targets of aggression and hence become the scapegoats for the frustrated members of the more powerful groups.
Hence, in line with Freudian energy model, (Instinct theory), the aggression is stored and compounded with each new frustration ready to be released on a powerless or less powerful stimulus. According to Freudians the expression of aggression is desirable as it would drain off the accumulation of aggressive urges.
Inhibition of aggressive urges on the other hand will lead to psychological complications during the subsequent stages of personality development. At least the child should be allowed to vent his aggression on his toys and dolls or in painting and drawings. He should be allowed to play and run to release the suppressed energy.
Another theory based on Freudian theory postulates that repeated frustrations and severe harsh treatment in early child hood produce subsequently an authoritarian personality which is rigid, unfriendly, undemocratic and prejudiced towards the out groups and hence prone to violence. Such frustrated persons lack good social relationship and fail to undertake successful social interactions.
They are moody, irritative and get excited all of a sudden on some very trivial or minor issues. With slightest provocation they start quarrelling, combating and make counter arguments in an agitated manner as if aggression is deep rooted in their personality. Such people are not liked by the society.
From these two theories which are interred related the following conclusions can be made:
1. Aggression is not an inevitable response to frustration. In both animal and human studies frustration has produced different other reactions like submission, regression, repression, projection, displacement, withdrawal reaction and other defence mechanisms or forgetting about the episode.
2. Many aggressive acts are not instigated by frustration. Ber Kowitz’s research (1962) led to the undisputed conclusion that there are some aggressive acts that are not necessarily instigated by frustration. For example, killing and destruction during an operation or war is a policy decision and this need not be considered as reactions of frustrated individuals.
3. The most frustrated people are not necessarily the most aggressive. Women are highly frustrated in societies throughout the world, but they are relatively less aggressive than males perhaps because of biological reasons and social learning.
Sherif (1953) in this connection holds “with a society divided by hatred and violence among its groups, the direction of prejudice and hostility is typically from the dominants and mighty groups downward to the down trodden and deprived.”
Comparison between different societies and cultures do not prove that the most frustrated are necessarily the most aggressive.
As Klinberg rightly points out at the time when lynching negroes’ was not uncommon in the southern United States, White Brazilians were by and large much more frustrated in their attempts to maintain a subsistence level of life and were similarly subjected to the ups and downs of economic conditions.
But they were not lynching the Brazilian Negroes. The Indian soldiers in the Jammu and Kasmir border and near the P.O.K are being killed mercilessly and subjected to terrorists attack daily. But they are not lynching the enemies or making henius terrorist attacks.
4. The scape goat theory does not explain the targets of aggression. This theory holds that the most likely targets would be the people most helpless and most likely to retaliate. BerKowitz (1962) found that the most helpless groups are not always the objects of hatred and not the only ones.
He therefore reached at the conclusion that the scape goat theory as usually formulated is incomplete. In studying juvenile gangs of Chicago in 1927 Thraser observed that the height of solidarity and mutual trust among members frequently accompanied their most intense conflicts with other groups.
Considering the limitations of the famous frustration-aggression hypotheses, later psychologists challenged it and tried to bring modifications. They hold that aggression is a consequence of frustration but it is not the only or sole reaction to frustration. G.K Morton, in “A note on the Frustration—Aggression theory of Dollard and his associates” criticised as follows.
“The view of Miller, Dollard that frustration leads to some sort of aggression is equal to the falacy which was popular 20 years back i.e., if you suppress your sexual urges a complex will set in and therefore people let themselves go…perhaps the frustration aggression is roughly equivalent in validity to this view on sex.”
When exposed to severe frustration many people become depressed rather than aggressive. Aggression does not always originate from frustration.
In-spite of the controversies the Frustration— Aggression hypothesis advanced by Dollard et.al.(1939) still stands the test of time. That aggression is the fundamental reaction to frustration, though not the only one, nobody can deny.
This theory is still considered as an excellent theory which explains how frustration produces aggression and if frustration is minimized aggression, violence and crime can be minimized in the society if not totally uprooted. In-spite of the criticisms that this hypothesis had to face and in-spite of its limitations it is undoubtedly the starting point of all researches in the area of frustration, aggression and its probable reactions.
3. Social Learning Theory:
Subsequent research works in the area of frustration and aggression give the impression that Frustration— Aggression hypothesis should be modified. From such researches originate the Social Learning Theory.
Bandura, Berkowitz and others, the proponents of social learning theory view that an arousal which results from frustration does not necessarily lead to aggression, but only creates a condition for a readiness to cope with a threatening situation.
It can elicit different kinds of responses depending upon the kind of responses an individual has learned to cope with the frustrating situations in the earlier period of life.
Thus, he may become aggressive, may become regressive and cry or may withdraw from the situation, may remain silent, may displace his aggression on others or may seek the help of others. That response which has been most successful in the past in relieving his frustration will be repeated.
Bandura (1965) has demonstrated that aggressive responses can be learned by reinforcement or by imitation or by modeling which come under social learning theory. In a study on nursery school children it was observed that when an adult showed various forms of aggressive responses towards a large doll, the children showed similar aggressive responses through imitation.
There after they were shown film versions of aggressive modeling using dolls as cartoons. Results showed that the children who had observed life cartoon characters exhibited greater aggressive behaviour. It was also noticed from follow up studies that children remembered these aggressive reactions even after eight months.
Crime and violence shown in television and films now a day’s help increase of aggressive behaviour, crime and hostility to enormous extent. This proves that aggressive behaviour in mostly learnt and imitated from the environment is which the child lives.
Julian Rotter (1954, 1982) another, contributor to Social Learning Theory suggests that the likelihood that a given behaviour will occur in a specific situation depends upon the learning and imitation of the organism in a social situation, the expectancies concerning the outcome of a behaviour will produce and the reinforcement value they attach to such out conies i.e. the degree to which they prefer one reinforce to another.
Social learning theory relies on the role of modeling, identification and human interactions. According to Bandura a person can learn by imitating and observing the behaviour of another person. But at the same time personal factors also play a role in determining one’s identification with and imitation of other persons.
If the model is not liked, appreciated or respected by the person, then his behaviour may not be imitated only when a person identifies with another person and likes him, he accepts him as a model and imitates him.
A child imitates his parents because he likes and respects them as they take care of him, provide him security, confidence, love and affection. In course of parenting he observes their behaviour and imitates them. Social learning through observation is also called imitation learning. Social learning theorists combine operant and classical conditioning theories.
How? Although observation of models is a major factor in the learning process of social learning theory, it is important that-imitation of model must be rewarded and reinforced if the person has to identify with the person and accept his qualities as his own quality. He not only accepts the qualities of his model, he also learns to behave like them under similar situation.
Alfred Bandura is a major proponent of Social Learning School; According to him behaviour occurs as a result of the interplay between cognitive and environmental factors, a concept known as reciprocal determinism. When children or other persons learn by observing others either incidentally or intentionally, this process is called Modeling or Learning through imitation.
But choice of a model depends upon so many factors like age, sex, status, similarity to oneself, whether he likes or dislikes him, whether he respects or dis-respects him etc. usually it is found that that because of sex role identification a son accepts his father as his model and a daughter usually accepts her mother as a model and they imitate their parents accordingly.
But suppose due to some reasons the boy does not like his father but loves his mother most then he may accept his mother as a model and imitate her behaviour, likes and dislikes dress, emotion etc.
If the mother shows aggressive reaction towards the cook, the child will learn to show the same reaction. If the mother does not like a particular food, the child will not like the same. Sometimes children are found to accept their teachers as model and imitate their behaviour.
If the model selected by the child is normal, less aggressive, reflects healthy values and norms the child develops socially acceptable qualities. On the other-hand an aggressive model helps in the development of aggressive reactions. Normal and socially acceptable behaviour of the model develops the capacity to adapt to normal everyday life and various threatening, dangerous situations in day to day life.
Even abnormal and maladaptive behaviour learnt from un-favourable role models can be eliminated through behaviour modification technique (operant conditioning).
Through behaviour therapy a person can learn alternate behaviour from other role models who show normal and society acceptable models. It is true that an aggressive and maladaptive model helps in the development of aggressive and maladaptive behaviour. As children grow older they acquire the knowledge of sex category through social learning.
Social learning theory emphasizes the impact of modeling and operant conditioning learning on acquisition of different behaviors. According to social learning theory children are rewarded with verbal praise when they behave in accordance with gender roles and gender stereotypes i.e., when they show the behaviour as boys or girls sanctioned and expected by the society.
For example a boy learns to be dressed like his father or brother and he plays games decided for the boys or the games which other boys play.
If a boy is dressed like a girl he is ridiculed by the society and this activity is not reinforced or rewarded. So he gives up being dressed like a girl and starts wearing the dresses meant for boys. Similarly a girl learns to help her mother in house hold works as society expects a girl to do so.
Here the approval of parents and sanction of society acts as rein-forcer for the child, so he imitates such activities. On the contrary, punishment eliminates certain learning and behaviour not approved by the society and culture. When a boy imitates the male members of his family and a girl imitates the female members of the family they tend to adopt the behaviour shown by their same sex models.
Bandura’s social learning theory suggests that people can learn by observing others and events in the environment as well as by participating them. In several recent studies Bandura, Bandura and Walters et.al, demonstrated the usefulness of observational learning in children.
They have also provided great deal of information regarding factors that influence the likelihood of a subject’s subsequently imitating responses acquired through observation. In a typical experiment a child is exposed to a real life or filmed model who is either a child or an adult.
The model then performs various activities and the child observes them. There after it is examined how far the child has imitated the actions displayed by the models. Changes that occur in the behaviour of the child after observing models and imitating them are not always positive in nature. Very often people are likely to acquire bad habits as good ones.
A child of 3 years Atul went to a neighbor’s place to play with his friend Babloo. When he reached there he saw Babloo was rolling on the floor, crying and crying and showing tantrums as his mother did not give him money to buy ice-cream. Atul observed this vividly and next day he was found showing the same tantrums and aggressive actions when his mother refused to give him money to buy chocolates.
In another incident a boy named Raju saw his friend Bittoo spitting on his maid servant as she did not allow her to go out and play with his friend in the absence of his mother who was a working woman. Next day Raju was found spitting on his servant boy’s face as he broke his Spiderman. These are all learned aggressive behaviour coming under social learning.
Social learning theory suggests that through observation and imitation of models a lot of behaviour is learnt. Even by observing “Saktiman”, “Spiderman” and other serials, in television many children learn to show similar kinds of aggressive actions. Due to hero-worship many boys are found to run, jump, kick and beat.
However, in case of girls such actions are less found probably because of discouragement by parents and lack of reinforcement by society. Many experiments on children prove the concept of social learning theory through observational learning and imitation.
A very famous study on learning to show aggression was conducted by Bandura and Ross and Ross (1963). The study indicates how children learn to be aggressive by observing an adult aggressive model.
In this study they took two groups of nursery school children as samples. The control group was exposed to a quiet non-aggressive amiable adult model. But the experimental group was exposed to an aggressive adult model that kicked a big inflated Bobo Doll, scolded and insulted it.
The adult model in the experimental group knocked the doll down, sat on it, pushed it, insulted verbally and threw it several times in the air, punched it repeatedly in the nose.
Later the children of both the groups were allowed to play in a room with several toys including a Bobo Doll. Careful observation of their behaviour revealed that those who had seen the aggressive adult model often imitated his behaviour. They too punched the toy, sat on it and often uttered verbal comments similar to those of the model.
On the contrary children of the control group rarely if ever demonstrated such actions of violence and aggression. The findings of this study prove that children acquire new ways of aggressing through exposure to violent television programmes, movies and aggressive behaviour of his parents, grand-parents and teachers.
Social scientists explain the in-disciplined aggressive and ruthless behaviour of many modern youths as a consequence of imitating the same from the above agencies. All learned aggressive behaviour come under social learning.
The ability to learn by observing the activities of others in the family or society is due to the cognitive influence of learning. Even Tolman’s experiment on rats learning to run mazes substantiates the fact that simple creatures can learn from experience to form internal models to guide later behaviour.
Social learning theory emphasizes the role of learning, especially impact of modeling and operant conditioning techniques of learning. According to this theory children are rewarded for behaving in accordance with gender stereotypes and gender roles.
“I act like my Papa so I am a boy” “I act like my Mummy so I am a girl”, they say. In this manner their ideas about sex role and sex stereotypes develop. Children usually identify with their own sex models.
Rotter who has also contributed to social learning theory is of view that those individuals who strongly believe that they can make and change their own personalities, own destinies they are known as Internals. On the other hand those who believe that their destiny and personality is an outcome of the forces in their outside or external environment and they have no control upon them, they are known as Externals.
Internals are often happy people and are better adjusted because they try to shape their career and future. The externals throw all the responsibilities on the outside environment and hardly make any attempt to build their character, personality and future.
According to Rotter, “internal factors such as subjective estimates concerning the likelihood of various outcomes, subjective reactions to those out comes and generalized expectancies of personal control all combine to influence behaviour”.
These suggestions of Rotter definitely contrast very sharply with the view stated in early learning approach to personality that only external reinforcement contingencies should be taken in the account.
In Rotters Social Learning theory “Internals” are those individuals who believe that they exert sufficient control over the outcomes they experiences.
Externals are those individuals who believe that they have little control over the outcomes they experience. The social learning theory advocates that people benefit from the exposures to others. Many people who came to psychologists for help appear to have inadequate basic social skills of communication and social relations.
They do not know how interact with others in an effective manner. They do not know how to make a request without sounding pusliy or how to refuse one request without annoying the requester.
To-day, I went to a bank in some personal work. There I found that one customer was angrily arguing with one bank employee and they were having very heated discussion over a very small issue i.e., updating the pass book of the customer. Both the customer and the bank employee I feel lacked minimum sense of courtesy, patience and the skill to interact successfully.
Such people don’t know how to expose their feelings clearly and how to hold their temper in check. They lack in emotional intelligence and even how to start, continue and hold an ordinary conversation. Such individuals experience difficulties in forming friendships and intimate relationships, they also face difficulties every-where for getting things done. In short, they don’t know how to behave properly.
They feel helpless, depressed, aggressive and anxious because of their difficulties. Presence of such qualities makes life hail.
Behaviour therapists have developed techniques to modify such aggressive, undesirable, socially unacceptable qualities and help people improve their social skills through observational learning.
There techniques of therapy often involve modeling, i.e., showing these people live demonstrations or video tapes of how people with good social skills behave in different situations. Modeling as a very successful technique in social learning is often used in “Assertive training” which helps clients to learn how to express their feeling and desires more clearly.
Women who learn to be unassertive, shy, obedient, submissive and tolerant by observing women models from the childhood with these qualities, can be made assertive, confident, self supportive and protective by proper assertive training through alternate models. But assertiveness is not aggressiveness.
Assertiveness means being able to state one’s preferences, wishes, desires and needs rather than simply surrendering to others wishes and desires. Pushy persons can be checked through assertiveness. Sometime we wish to avoid a person or refuse something which we don’t want.
But we cannot do it because of our unassertiveness. This can be achieved by assertiveness training, women in India and other developing, under developed countries should be given this assertiveness training.
Appropriate good social models in the view of Bandura can irradiate many aggressive behaviour. It can also be controlled through social learning of desirable and unaggressive models. Thus the crux of social learning theory is learning through models.