This next study by Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. in 1961 looked at if aggression was learned or could be transferred from one subject to the next. It was proposed that if a child saw an adult acting aggressively that child would "learn" that behavior and do likewise. The experiment was setup so that a child was taken into a play room where an adult would then enter and beat up on a Bobo doll. Other children the control group had an adult come in who did not beat up the Bobo doll. There were both female and male models. The children where then taken to another room where there were more toys and the Bobo doll. The children were observed through a one-way-mirror and it was noted each act of aggression that was displayed by the child. Before taking the children into this next room the experimenters first aroused anger in the children by not allowing them to play with some toys.
The results where very interesting. The children exposed to the violent acts imitated the acts. Boys' violent behavior was more influenced by the male model than the female model and 3rd boys were more violent than girls. The results were mixed on whether the non-aggressive model had an opposite effect on aggression.
This study showed that through observation, in this case violent ones, behaviors could be learned. The next thing they showed that is interesting is that male aggression was more acceptable than female aggression. Other studies have looked at this and they have found that the farther away from realistic models the models are the less likely the children will model this aggression.
How does this help us develop our characters further? By understanding how behavior is learned through observation it is important to teach our characters in the same manner. It is also important to look at the societies that we build within our stories to make them realistic as well. When we have models for our characters especially ones than could be seen as authority figures we need to show how the models behavior affects the character. Do we have an "evil" model for our character. If so does that character learn the behavior or parts of the behavior. Maybe the character becomes the hero of our story but has hints of the behavior that the "evil" model had. Maybe the MC has to stop himself from killing someone as he flashes back to the cruelty of his father. In our societies who is the dominant sex. Is it okay for a male character to beat another person to death or is that viewed as unacceptable. How about a female character is it improper for her to walk away from a fight or is it improper for her to defend herself?
When looking at our characters we need to be aware of the learned behaviors that they do not even know about and how the models around them affect their behavior.