The Bobo doll experiment conducted by Albert Bandura et al. in the early 60th made a significant contribution to the field of developmental psychology of that time. By showing that children can learn new ways of behavior solely through observing and imitating, Bandura invoked a paradigm shift that eventually led to the creation of social learning theory.
Although, despite the importance of the experiment’s results, it is hardly possible to repeat it under the same conditions nowadays due to British Psychological Society (BPS) standards. BPS code is based on four ethical principles: respect, competence, responsibility, and integrity. If the studies of social learning, aggressive behavior, in this case, are to be continued, they have to correspond to the mentioned values. Consequently, the researchers should avoid allowing explicit acts of violence in front of the children’s eyes; they should also refrain from deliberate provocation that might reinforce aggression. In other words, instead of setting up the environment according to their needs, the researchers should focus more on observation and analysis.
One possible way of exploring the sources of aggression in children might be by studying the influence of the media they are subjected to. Zafar and Chaudhary (2018) conducted research among the children’s parents regarding the acts of aggression obtainable through TV shows and video games. Since the children do not possess the proper analytical qualities, their mothers were provided with the questionnaires instead. Even though the target audience might not be completely objective, the study can be considered a viable ethical alternative to the Bobo doll experiment.
Another way of assessing the aggression level is by studying the behavior of subjects who are deliberately involved in activities that imply aggression to some extent – sportspeople. Andhale’s research (2019) focuses on university students participating in individual and group sports tournaments. Students and children belong to different target audiences; nevertheless, the logic behind this study provides a relevant solution to the Bobo doll experiment’s ethical issue.
Andhale, Y. (2019). Study of Aggression and Emotional Intelligence among Team and Individual Sportsman. Think India Journal, 22(13), 801-807.
Zafar, A., & Chaudhary, U. G. (2018). Effects of violence shown in media on children: A study of parent’s perspective. Journal of Early Childhood Care and Education, 2, 61-73.