As discussed, Bobo Doll experiment became a significant foundation in the field of social learning theory. Further, it served as a pivotal movement towards understanding of behavior and learning processes that cannot be explained by the other theories already existing.
Let me focus first on the implications of this experiment in the context of child’s learning in the present time.
- First, the experiment conducted showed the significance of role modelling and imitation as two processes by which a learner, particularly the young ones utilize in integrating and developing their behaviors and practices. By virtue of observation especially of the adults, children usually think that they must also act similar to what they are seeing. Because their concepts of appropriateness is still developing, they somehow cannot filter which is which when it comes to imitating actions. More often than not, they end up trusting the things available to their sight. As can be inferred, it may result to adaptation of ill behaviour depending upon the role model they most often observe.
- Secondly, as the personalities behind this social learning theory affirm, social imitation may hasten or short-cut the acquisition of new behaviors without the necessity of reinforcing successive approximations as suggested by the behaviourists. This I guess will be likely true among those people who are being regarded as “idols” of the learners. By this, children usually find it easy to accept and adapt new patterns of behavior as they fully trust the persons being imitated. As with my observation, young cousins of mine are fond of imitating their school teachers because they believe their teachers are “perfect” role model of what everyone should become. Even without the presence of rewarding comments and/or tokens, they still continue imitating such acts.
- Lastly, the role of reinforcement and punishment can still be seen in this theory though not among the learners themselves but to the role models being imitated. As they found out, children would less likely imitate a person’s behavior when that particular act was coupled with embarrassment or otherwise perceived “punishing.” As these young learners have the knowledge what distinguish shame from joy, definitely they will imitate those acts that seem to be worth rewarding as they observe in their role models.
On the other hand, this experiment as part of the social learning theory is not without weaknesses and criticisms just like the other ones. in a highly controlled setting (laboratory) which is very different from the real world setting where children and other learners are exposed at. I agree with this one for the reason that “extraneous” variables or those factors that may affect the children’s attention were not present in the conduct of the experiment. For instance, when a child witnesses her mother nagging at her father, she might be curious and interested to observe that act that may predispose her to imitating such acts in the future. However, a sudden loud jolly music comes in that distracts her attention from watching her mother. Instead of continuously observing the act of nagging by someone, she may end up dancing in the tune of a very lively music. My point here is that there are other factors that may intervene in the process of observation and role modelling.
- As we all know, a research study must be free from bias especially among selection of subjects who will be included in the study. As stated, the subjects of Bobo experiment share the same characteristics like race, school environment, and socioeconomic background that make it difficult to generalize the obtained findings to more diverse and significantly different groups of people. For example, there are cultures by which members tend to be less tolerable to frustrations and more aggressive than the other groups. This alone might explain the difference in the observation. The study could have been more generalizable if such factors were adequately considered.
- Immediately after watching the video of that experiment, I actually wondered “if” the children will display the same thing (imitating aggressive acts and remarks) days after the experiment. I am concerned about the long term effect of the conducted study. For me, since the witnessed actions were still fresh in the children’s memories, they have the natural tendency to carry out what was just observed. Maybe follow up studies can be made considering this point to further strengthen the concepts of social learning theory.
- Lastly, I also agree that hitting or displaying aggressive acts towards the Bobo doll is far different from exhibiting same actions towards a real person. Just the mere fact that the Bobo doll will not respond despite of continuous physical aggression, the child may be more determined to continue such acts. I remember the defense mechanism displacement, by which the individual displaces an unacceptable or frustrating inclinations towards less threatening objects. Again, they do this not as a typical response of displaying learned behavior towards aggression, but rather a “relieving” and partly “innate” activity of lessening the tension being experienced.
To conclude on this, I do believe that we, as adults must capitalize on the strengths of the aforementioned theory in an effort to provide young children with role models that are really worth imitating. Knowing that children in general learn various things as they interact with us, we should therefore be more responsible in displaying appropriate behavior not only in their presence but also acts of keeping with our well-developed values and attitudes in life.
Be a good role model everyone! God bless! 😀 😀 😀