Science

Albert Bandura, Leading Psychologist of Aggression, Dies at 95

“I began to feel a kinship with the battered Bobo doll,” he wrote.

In the end, his work won out, his findings becoming even more relevant in a world where social media and a 24-hour-a-day news cycle have afforded violence models far greater reach.

The Bobo doll experiment became a staple of psychology classes around the world. People mailed Bobo dolls to Dr. Bandura requesting autographs and knocked on his office door in Stanford’s Jordan Hall, hoping to have their photograph taken with the famous psychologist.

In an interview for this obituary in 2018, Dr. Bandura said he had once received an email from some high school students.

“Professor Bandura,” they wrote, “we’re having a huge fight in our class and you’re the only one who can answer it: Professor Bandura, are you still living?”

He wrote the students back: “This email is being sent from the other side. We have email there, but not Facebook.”

Albert Bandura was born on Dec. 4, 1925, in the prairie town of Mundare, about 50 miles east of Edmonton, Alberta. His parents, like most of the settlement’s 400 residents, were immigrants from Eastern Europe, his father from Krakow, Poland, his mother from Ukraine. His father, Joseph Bandura, laid track for the trans-Canada railway and turned a heavily wooded homestead into a working farm. His mother, Justyna (Berezanski) Bandura, ran a delivery service, transporting goods from the railway station to the store.

In the summers, Dr. Bandura helped his father on the farm or worked in other manual labor jobs. When he was 7, one of his many siblings died, and his parents, concerned about the grief-stricken atmosphere in the house, sent him to live for a year with the eldest of his five older sisters, a teacher in Mundare’s only schoolhouse. The town’s lack of educational resources forced him to take charge of his own schooling, and taught him a valuable skill.

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