Bandura was drawn into the public debate and testified before congressional committees and the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, a task force created after the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.
His research did not sit well with the broadcast industry. His findings were criticized in articles commissioned by the networks, and the Television Information Office, part of the National Association of Broadcasters, sent its sponsor stations elaborate rebuttals to his findings. After Dr. Bandura and several other social scientists were excluded from a committee that the surgeon general had asked to evaluate the effects of television violence, Dr. Bandura later wrote, he discovered that broadcast networks had been allowed to veto the nominations of committee members.
“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