The Bobo Doll Experiment: Learning Through Observing

Pavlov taught us about associative learning and up until recently we thought association and conditioning  through reward and punishment were the only ways to ‘teach’. But in 1961 Albert Bandura conducted his ‘Bobo the doll experiment’ and introduced us to the concept of social cognitive learning through observation, showing us there is more than one way to learn.

Bobo the doll was a clown. Some children were placed in a room and observed a woman beating the doll up, while some observed her being nice to the doll and some observed nothing and didn’t meet the woman or ‘Bobo’ at all. All children were placed into rooms full of toys, and then had to endure the toys all being taken away, except Bobo. Only the children who had seen Bobo being beaten up started to beat him up. Observational learning was proven through this.

We now know the process may be down to mirror neurons and there is no doubt that it could be one of the most sincere forms of learning.

From Crash Course: Psychology on YouTube presented by Hank Green