In the classic “Bobo Doll” experiment child participants observed an adult interact aggressively with a plastic, blow-up doll. The adult hit the doll, kicked it, and even pummeled it with a mallet. Subsequently, each child was allowed to play with the doll. Children that observed the adult’s aggressive behavior toward the doll, behaved with similar forms of aggression. Children in a control condition, that did not view this aggressive modeling, did not play with the doll in an aggressive manner. This research suggests that children learn aggressive behavior, at least in part, by imitating parents, other adults, or peers behaving in this way.
Take a look at the following clip to see (somewhat disturbing) footage from the Bobo Doll experiment:
What do you think of this study? How else might aggressive behavior be learned?