Natural Born Killers?

Social learning theory argues that behaviour is learnt through observing the behaviour of role models directly in the social environment and indirectly through the media. Bandura developed the concept of vicarious learning to explain how we can learn new behaviours through watching films and T.V. He conducted the Bobo doll studies to test his hypothesis that children can learn aggressive behaviour by watching a role model behave aggressively and be rewarded for that aggressive behaviour. One of his Bobo doll studies tested his hypothesis that children can learn to behave aggressively through vicarious learning: indirectly by watching role models in films and on T.V. Bandura modified his social learning theory and introduced cognitive processes to explain how vicarious learning worked. This Social Cognitive Learning Theory has been very influencial in explaining the effect of the media on aggression and aggressive behaviour.

Natural Born Killers the film by Oliver Stone focusses on the role of the media in causing aggression, aggressive violence and murder, especially serial killings. The film suggests that the murders by Mickey and Mallory the male and female killers in the film are due to the way the media reports and celebrates violence and serial killers. Like Dr Frankenstein the media is responsible for the creation of serial killers.

Some psychiatrists agree with this analysis and have backed this up with evidence of 'copy cat murders' after the media has reported cases of extreme violence.

However, Mickey claims that he is a natural born killer, he does what he does because it's innate, it's part of his nature:

"The Wolf don't know why he's a Wolf, the Deer don't know why he's a deer. God just made 'em that way."

Psychologists don't look to God for an explanation of behaviour like aggression but evolutionary mechanisms and genes and inheritance. Some psychologists now think that there may be natural born killers: psychopaths. After all millions of people watch T. V. and films like Natural Born Killers and don't go out and murder people. 

The film also suggests that Mickey and Mallory may have been raised in an abusive environment. Watch the film. What do you think: is Mickey right he is a natural born killer or is the film director right it's down to the media. How about a Social Learning theory explanation? Being raised in an abusive environment and observing adults behave aggressively explains Mickey and Mallory's aggression?

You can watch the film on Youtube....

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