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Social learning theory suggests that aggression is a learned behaviour; it can be reinforced and rewarded by others. Relative deprivation theory suggests that aggression stems from the feeling of being deprived. In Banduras experiment with the bobo doll, aggression was limited. Would the children have behaved aggressively towards a real person? Relative deprivation theory does suggest that frustration always leads to aggression, yet this is not the case. The riots in 1992 could be due to racial discrimination rather than the feeling of being deprived.

Elliott’s experiment with children showed the simplicity of a child’s brain and explained that when a child is told others are inferior to them, they do believe it and they act upon it. This experiment explains the values of reinforcement as well as learned behaviour. Although the children did not witness aggressive behaviour they were told by a figure of authority that they were different. In reference to Sherif’s experiment it is contradicted by an experiment conducted by Spencer and Tyerman in 1983, they conducted a similar experiment to that of Sherif, but the children already knew each other.

So when the groups were put back together they remained friendly towards each other. This suggests that the fact the children were strangers made it easier to become aggressive towards each other, yet friends at the beginning of the experiment were still friends at the end. The research from both Sherif and Spencer and Tyerman, contradict each other, this suggests that the circumstances in which the experiments took place are a big factor on the outcome of the experiment. In evaluation to these experiments it is possible to argue both sides and conclude that each experiment has ideal results in the given situation.

This could explain perhaps how Ms Brown could feel. In Sherifs experiment Ms Brown could be influenced by that of peers. Knowing no one at the beginning and forming friendships and following others in the way they act or feel. This is more likely to be relevant to Ms Brown’s case as at the first arrival to the new neighbourhood Ms Brown knew no one. The bobo doll experiment was well controlled. The experiment did include other toys for the children to play with, yet they chose to copy specific aggression towards the doll. This shows that children had learned the aggressive behaviour.

In evaluation to the bobo doll experiment in reference to Ms Brown, if she had been raised in a racist family or in fact raised in any way different to the people of the new neighbourhood perhaps her family or peers behaved in a certain way, in which case this could influence the way in which Ms Brown behaves or feels. The Ku Klux Klan began as mainly poor white people who were ‘frightened’ of the end of slavery. It resulted in mass murder of innocent black people. Perhaps the beginning of the klan was due to relative deprivation, but it ended in hatred.

Biological theorists argue that relative deprivation theory and social learning theory ignore the individual biological factors and differences between individuals genetic and brain factors. Each person has individual genetics, in this case it then becomes impossible to explain how a person would react to the given case study. It is not always possible to explain a person’s behaviour through relative deprivation or social learning. It is not possible to explain a person’s behaviour using only one theory, there for this suggests that many issues contribute to the influence of a person’s behaviour.

In conclusion to this assignment, Ms Brown is a new comer to an already established community. This can raise various feelings both for Ms Brown and for the people of the neighbourhood. Their lives are so different that it may cause conflict between them. If aggression was to occur from Ms Brown, it is not possible to say what the causes of this aggression could be. Perhaps a combination of what Ms Brown learned as a child and the feeling that she has been deprived of something. There are many theories surrounding aggression, this assignment could only touch on two of them. In the possibility of aggression from Ms Brown it remains uncertain what the causes could be.


Cardwell M et al 2001 Psychology for A2 Level London HarperCollins Publishers Limited Cardwell M ; Flanagan C 2004 Psychology A2 the complete companion Cheltenham Nelson Thornes Ltd Eysenck M 1998 Psychology an integrated approach Essex Pearson Education Limited Gross R ; Rolls G 2004 Essential A2 Psychology for AQA (A) London Hodder ; Stroughton Gross R et al 2000 Psychology a new introduction for A2 London Hodder and Stoughton,

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