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Aggression – The Psychology of Aggression

4. Social Learning Theory

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In this module, we think about Social Learning Theory as a way of understanding aggression as a learned behaviour. We begin by exploring the origins of Social Learning Theory in the work of Albert Bandura, specifically his ‘Bobo doll’ experiment from 1961, and think about how the four stages of Social Learning, (i) attention, (ii) retention, (iii) reproduction and (iv) motivation, can be applied to aggression as a learned behaviour. We then test this application by looking at a study of the link between observed parental violence in childhood and aggression in later life, conducted by Eriksson and Mazerolle in 2015. Finally, we think about Script Theory as a model of aggression that has emerged out of the Social Learning approach in recent decades.


In this course, Dr Claire Lawrence (University of Nottingham) discusses the psychology of aggression and aggressive behaviour. We begin, in module one, by thinking about the genetic basis for aggression, associated with the so-called ‘warrior gene’ MAOA. Next, we think about the neural and hormonal mechanisms involved in aggressive behaviour, focussing on the role of serotonin in module two and testosterone in module three. The fourth module considers how Social Learning Theory can help us to understand aggression as a learned behaviour, while module five focusses on the Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis as a social psychological model which argues that frustration, the feeling of having our goals thwarted, is a key factor in causing aggressive behaviour.


Claire Lawrence is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham.

She works predominantly in the area of individual differences and her research centres around the question: Why do some people act aggressively in some situations, and other people don't? She also examines whether some antisocial traits have benefits in a sexual selection context.

Her second main area of research is the unintended and negative impacts of behavioural interventions.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Lawrence, C. (2019, September 27). Aggression – The Psychology of Aggression - Social Learning Theory [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Lawrence, C. "Aggression – The Psychology of Aggression – Social Learning Theory." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Sep 2019,

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