• Aggression
  • Do TV and Video Games affect young people's behavior?

Biological Aggression

  • The limbic system is called the ‘emotional area’ of the brain because it is responsible for the emotions needed for survival, like fear and aggression
  • People with emotional disorders have been shown to have had damage to the limbic system
  • The amygdala recognises emotion, creates emotional responses and produces aggression
  • In animal studies removing the amygdala makes the animal very calm whereas damage to this area may cause increased levels of aggression
  • Some human case studies offer evidence that the amygdala might cause aggression – e.g. Charles Whitman who shot 13 people.  He left a note saying he was convinced something was making him aggressive.  An autopsy revealed a tumour pressing against his amygdala
  • It is difficult to tell if the limbic system and the amygdala are involved in aggressive behaviour or not, as there is limited direct proof.
1 of 11


-         In almost every culture, males are far more aggressive than females

-         Testosterone is secreted by the adrenal glands and testes and is needed to produce sperm, develop the male reproductive system and produce male features e.g. facial hair, deep voice etc.

-  If that animal is then injected with testosterone its aggression level is restored to normal 

-  This is strong evidence that testosterone is responsible for aggression

-  Psychologists can take blood from humans to see what level of testosterone they have and compare it to how aggressive they feel or act.  Some correlation studies have found a relationship between high testosterone levels and questionnaire results showing greater reported aggression.  However, it is not certain whether testosterone causes increased aggression or aggression causes increased testosterone

2 of 11

Social Learning Theory

  • Albert Bandura developed SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY as an explanation for behaviour
  • Children learn through watching other people either directly (family, friends etc.) or through watching people in the media – role models
  •  Role models are chosen through the process of identification – people they look up to, or who are similar to themselves.
  • Memory: being able to remember what we have seen until we need it
  • Reproduction: being able to act out what we have seen until it is needed.
  • Motivation: we have an incentive to learn through vicarious learning = learning through other people’s rewards or punishments.
  • Vicarious learning: if we observe another person being rewarded for their behaviour, we are more likely to copy it. On the other hand if we observe somebody being punished for their behaviour we are less likely to copy it.
  •  Bandura's classic STUDY of the Bobo doll showed that when children observed an adult playing aggressively with the Bobo doll, they copied that behaviour.
  • He found that if the adult was rewarded they were more likely to copy.
  • He found that if the adult was punished they were less likely to copy
  • He found that boys were more likely to copy male adults than female adults
3 of 11

Evaluation of Social Learning Theory


The study is supported with evidence from Bandura’s Bobo doll studies because he showed that children copy behaviour.

There are many real life aggressive incidents that have been linked to TV and video games, such as the Columbine Massacre, and the James Bulger murder.


BUT it may be that aggressive children watch aggressive TV rather than the other way around.

BUT some studies have shown that watching aggressive TV can lower aggression in people because it can act as a release.

BUT not all children who observe aggressive behaviour copy it.

BUT Bandura’s study was a laboratory experiment, this means it is not VALID.

4 of 11

Nature vs Nurture

  • The NATURE-NURTURE debate is whether our behaviour is caused by our biology (NATURE) or the environment around us (NURTURE).
  • The biological theory sees aggression as something that comes from our body, something we are born with WHEREAS social learning theory believes that we learn aggression from the people around us.
  • The social learning theory says that we are motivated to be aggressive through vicarious learning from observing other people, WHEREAS the biological theory says that we are driven to be aggressive through the levels of testosterone in our body, or damage to our amygdala.
  • BOTH theories are SIMILAR because they are difficult to study – we cannot open people’s brains to investigate their amygdales, and we cannot easily test the effects of observational learning over a long period of time
  •  BOTH theories are SIMILAR because it is difficult to test because of ethical reasons of testing on people.
  • BOTH theories are SIMILAR because they have been criticised as it may be that the reverse of the theory might be true – e.g. aggressive children might like watching aggressive TV (rather than aggressive TV causing aggression in children).
5 of 11

Educational Psychologist (Focuses)

  • An Ed Psych works with a wide range of issues with young people in schools.

 The focus is always children these are some of the features of their job:

  • Legal assessments of children with special needs – to ensure they get the relevant help and their needs met –children, parents are involved too.
  •  Consultation with various schools they are attached too.  They talk to teachers, head teachers, special needs co-ordinators, children, parents – school visits are usually once per half term or more.
  • Carries out individual assessments and tests (IQ etc) as well as physical abilities and language.  They test for dyslexia – they collect qualitative and quantitative data from as many sources as possible.
  • Communication is important so a child is able to answer questions.Open questions are more likely to uncover meaningful information.
  • Planning interventions – working with the child and teachers to make changes necessary to help the child.  They usually set up a plan for other people to carry out 
    • They can train people to carry out interventions.
    • They carry out research and work with many agencies. 
6 of 11

Educational Psychologist (Skils)

An educational psychologist can work with

  • The Local Education Authority (for state schools like ours)
  • Private Schools
  • Or themselves – self employed

 Skills needed: COMMUNICATION SKILLS and EMPATHIC LISTENING, be able to talk with a RANGE OF PEOPLE (range of pupils, parents, teachers, and other professionals).

Qualifications: Degree in Psychology + Experience in Education + Doctorate in Educational Psychology (studying a 3 year PhD at University)

Chartered status: To achieve chartered status an Ed Psych must prove they are Continuing Professional Development (CPD)  - doing courses to keep up to date in their area of specialism.

7 of 11

Educational Psychologist (Anger Management) #1

  • The child will not be learning if they are emotionally aroused and other children or adults will be affected so it is important for the child to be able to control their behaviour
  • The starting point is observation – the Ed Psych may go into the classroom to watch the child to see what triggers the behaviour and to look for patterns
  • The teacher is also asked to observe and keep records
  • The aim is to try and find out what causes the anger, and how to identify an ‘incident’ before it occurs. Often there is no specific trigger for an outburst, so general features of what goes before an incident need to be identified
  • The Ed Psych needs to gather as much information as possible about what happens in the classroom, and whether or not the child displays this behaviour at home
  • Parents are invited to the school to discuss issues, and sometimes the Ed Psych will visit the child’s home to make observations
8 of 11

Educational Psychologist (Anger Management) #2

  • Parents are asked questions about whether or not the child’s behaviour is like anyone else’s behaviour in the home in an effort to establish patterns
  • If parents say there are no problems at home the Ed Psych tries to establish what triggers the behaviour at school
  • The Ed Psych will also ask the teacher to note whether there is a particular time of day or lesson when the behaviour takes place, also teachers are asked if they can tell straight away that they child will have a bad day.
  • The Ed Psych also talks to the child to see if they can get to the bottom of the problem
  • Helping the teacher to identify when an incident is going to happen can be very useful to stop the problem before it starts.  Teachers can then react appropriate before the situation kicks off.
  • The child can also learn what feelings and emotions come before an outburst and taught techniques to calm down or use relaxation techniques, breathing exercises or ‘relax’ words to bring them 
9 of 11


  • Censorship means preventing the circulation of information what might be harmful in some way; in this case we are looking at moral censorship
  • Material that is thought to be obscene or objectionable can be censored and this is done by the BBFC, the British Board of Film Classification
  • E.g. a U film has the following censorship guidelines: suitable for children over 4, some kissing is acceptable, handles themes sensitively without bad language, some nudity is acceptable but not in a sexual way, mild horror is OK but no emphasis on realistic weapons or any behaviour that might be dangerous for children to copy and no reference to illegal drugs
  •  An 18 categorisation means that you have to be 18 to see the film or rent or buy the DVD.  There are exceptions e.g. when the sex material is informative and educational
  • The role of the watershed is to protect children from viewing unsuitable material, such as acts of sex and/or violence
  • There are different types of government and some types are more likely to want strong censorship than others.  Authoritarian or paternalistic governments are more likely to favour censorship although this can result in a lack of freedom of speech which is considered a basic human right.
10 of 11

For and Against Censorship

  • British TV does seem to have less violent and sexual acts on it than other countries so maybe the watershed is unnecessary.
  • However, counting violent acts might not be a good indication of what is suitable for young children and what is not
  • Most adults agree with the 9 o’clock watershed which backs up the idea that censorship and the watershed protect society

Arguments FOR censorship

  • Censorship protects children from acts they aren’t ready for
  • Studies show the majority of people are in favour of the watershed

Arguments AGAINST censorship

  • Takes away freedom to choose, Restricts freedom of speech, tool of governmental control
  • Might not be necessary – fewer violent and sexual acts on British TV anyway
11 of 11


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Aggression resources »