Bobo Doll Experiment


Are our personalities based on traits that we acquire at birth or are our personalities molded by our surroundings? Albert Bandura conducted an experiment to test the theory of nature v nurture.
Albert Bandura, born December 4, 1925, graduated from the University of British Columbia. Bandura had a social learning theory that “stressed the importance of observational learning, imitation, and modeling.” He argued that people are not born with these traits and learn them over time from role models in their life.
In the Bobo Doll Experiment, conducted in 1961, Bandura test 72 boys and girl, evenly divided, three to six year old age group. Twenty-four girls and boys watched a male or a female adult act in an aggressive manner towards the doll. Half were divided to observe the model of the same sex and half were taken to observe a model of the opposite sex. The second group of children was exposed to a non-aggressive model. The last group was not exposed to any model at all. All of the children were taken into three play rooms to with different level of toys. The first play room the children with the aggressive adult would yell, kick, and throw the doll up in the air for the children to see. After being in the second room, considered a break, the children were taken into their final room with the Bobo doll and aggressive toys.
The children were tested in four ways:
  1. 1. Physical Agression
  2. 2. Verbal Agression
  3. 3. Amount of times they used another form of abuse towards the doll
  4. 4. Any behavior that was not portrayed by the adult
The results were as expected:
The children exposed to the model that was aggressive imitated that same aggression. Increase to expose of aggressive behavior increased the children’s attraction even more aggressive behavior with the use of toys that had a negative meaning to it, i.e. guns. The children were more likely to imitate same sex behavior. Boys showed a lot more aggression than girls.
When children come into the classroom from around the county, as teacher we can only guess what goes on at home. The child could be acting up because he learned that that’s the only way they get attention, or they could be using that derogatory term because that is what they hear at home. Knowing this experiment is crucial because it gives us insight into how children learn.
For more information on Social Learning Theory: SocialLearningTheory

This video shows how the experiment was conducted and the results:


Created by Nichelle King - October 2013