Bandura showed through his experiment that the formation of aggression in children occurs through observation and interaction with other people. During the first experiment in 1961, the children watched in person as an adult viciously beat Bobo – an inflatable doll about a meter high – for about 10 minutes. Then, when they were left alone in the room with Bobo, children would copy the adult’s behavior and start to also beat the doll, using their hands, legs, and even a hammer. Then, in 1963, Bandura changed one condition of the experiment: instead of children perceiving the adult’s violent behavior in person, they were shown videos. In one video was just a regular man beating the doll, while the second was fantasy-like, where he was dressed as a cat.
The most revolutionary result of Bandura’s research was the discovery that children were capable of using models as a means of acquiring new behaviors that would not otherwise have arisen. It was a shocking revelation for the public of that time that children could adopt aggressive behavior simply by observing the actions of others. Moreover, the experiment also revealed that they applied these newly acquired behaviors in new situations in the absence of other aggressive people. Today, however, it is generally accepted in public that observing another person’s expression of aggression is sufficient for the child to develop aggressive behavior at a later point in time.
I think that if Bandura used older children or young adults in his experiment, then the results would not be the same. In the video, the narrator states that as we grow older, we develop empath, especially towards other people (DebateFilms 2011). Preteens, teenagers, and especially young adults have more complex mental processes, and they are able to experience deeper emotions than small children. Moreover, they are not so easy to influence due to the changes in their perception, as they develop their own opinions on different matters. Juveniles also often show the signs of adolescent egocentrism that makes them less perceptible to outside influences, giving more focus to their inner world. The social learning theory does not really extend to older children with a more developed mentality, and it mostly draws on the influence that affected them early in their development. Thus, it cannot be used to explain behaviors that children employ later in life or without the influence from outside.
DebateFilms. (2011). The Brain: A Secret History – Emotions; Bandura Bobo Doll Experiment. YouTube. Web.