Observational Learning of Violent Behavior

Social and Biosocial Processes
  • L. Rowell Huesmann
Part of the Nato ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 292)


Although habitual aggressive and violent behaviors seldom develop in children unless there is a convergence of multiple predisposing and precipitating biosocial and contextual factors, there is compelling evidence that early observation of aggression and violence in the child’s environment or in the mass media contributes substantially to the development of aggressive habits that may persist throughout the life course (Bandura, 1986; Berkowitz, 1993; Paik & Comstock, 1994; Eron, Huesmann, Lefkowitz & Walder, 1972; Huesmann, 1986; Huesmann & Eron, 1986; Huesmann & Miller, 1994). The empirical evidence concerning the importance of observational learning has been accumulating for decades but has been given added relevance by the emergence of social/cognitive process models to explain individual differences in aggression. In this chapter 1 provide an overview of an unified cognitive/information-processing model of social behavior within which aggression can be understood, I elaborate on the key role that observational learning plays in the development of the cognitive/information-processing structures that control social behavior in general and aggressive behavior in particular; and I discuss the biosocial processes that seem to be involved in observational learning of these cognitive/information-processing structures.


Aggressive Behavior Violent Behavior Normative Belief Proactive Aggression Observational Learning 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Rowell Huesmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Center for Group Dynamics Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborMichiganUSA

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