Antisocial behaviour is defined as behaviours that violates the social norm and disrupt the quality of life of an individual, family and the community. It encompasses any behaviour that causes alarm or distress to another. Antisocial behaviours can be intentional or through negligence and are characterized by overt or covert hostility or often aggression towards others. Hanrahan (n.d.) noted that such behaviours “exist along a severity continuum and include repeated violations of social rules, defiance of authority and of the rights of others, deceitfulness, theft, and reckless disregard for self and others”. Overt behaviour involves aggressive acts like physically abusing others by hitting or throwing things at them. Covert behaviour on the other hand, involves aggression against property like vandalism, theft, graffiti drawing in public areas and fire setting. Anti-social behaviours in young children however can manifest in form of non-compliance, lying or sneaking around. Individuals who exhibit too much of antisocial behaviour usually find difficulty in seeing someone else’s point of view. Nonetheless, anti-social behaviour doesn’t imply the absence of pro-social behaviour.
From the Social Learning Theory (SLT) perspective, antisocial behaviours are learnt through imitation of such behaviours from one’s environment. The three core concepts explaining this are observation, internal mental states and the fact that learning doesn’t necessarily lead to behavioural change. For instance, a person who observes a peer drawing graffiti at the bus stand (observation) might think that it is as a fine expression or consider it as defacing of public property. If he internalizes the former, he will only mimic the behaviour when motivated. He might draw graffiti to express his anger when he fights with his parents, for example.
The underlying components of observational learning include attention; retention; motivation; reproduction. If an...