Bobo Doll Experiment

In 1961’s Albert Bandura made experiments about learning via observation. The general name of these experiments are known as ‘Bobo Doll Experiment’. The purpose of the experiment is to understand the effects of the observation and imitation in process of learning social behaviours such as anger etc.

Bandura, Ross and Ross (1961), chose 36 boy and 36 girl (between age 3 to 6) as experimental subject from the Stanford University Kindergarten. Before the experiment, children had been observed in the kindergarten in terms of aggressivity.  The children in each group had been matched and they had similar agression level in their everyday behavior. To test the reliability of the observer interpretations, 2 independent observer evaluated 51 children and there was a high correlation between results. With consistency of the results, appropriate children had been chosen and and started the experiment. Children had been brought to lab. There were 3 group. An agressive model was shown to the first group, non aggressive model was shown to second group and no model was shown to the third group.

There were 3 stages in the experiment:

Stage 1: Modelling Aggressive model was shown to the first group. There were potato prints, painting equipment, pictures, Bobo doll, hammer etc in the room. First, model played with some potato prints during 10 minutes and then attacked the Bobo doll, sometimes they used hammer while attacking the Bobo doll and shouted it. The first group of children watched the model.
In the socond group, model was non aggressive and played with just tinker toys and ignored Bobo doll, gun and other agressive toys. The second group of children watched this model.
The third group was control group and no model was shown to them.
Stage 2: Aggression Arousal All children in each group were exposed to mild aggression arousal. Then, they were taken separately to the room with a lot of toys. When a children started to play with toys, researcher came and said to children that ‘The toys you are playing with are my toys and I will reserve them for another children. If you want to play, you can play with toys in another room.’ Then researcher sent the children to another room.
Stage 3: Test for Delayed Imitation In another room where the children were sent, there were both aggressive and non aggressive toys (a tea set, three bears, plastic farm animals, dart guns, 3 foot Bobo doll etc.). Children in each group were sent individually to this room and they were observed during 20 minutes.   


1)The first group of children who observed the aggressive model, made more imitative aggressive response than other group of children.

2)In the first group, girls who observed male aggressive model showed more physical aggressive responses but if the model was female, girls gave verbal aggressive responses.

3)Boys imitated more male models but in girls it was not strong to imitate the same gender.

4)Boys imiteted physical aggressiveness more than girls. In verbal aggression there was too little difference between boys and girls.

5)The findings supports Bandura’s Social Learning Theory. So, children learn social behaviour such as anger through observation to other people.


Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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