Last Updated 07 Dec 2022

Albert Bandura’s Works Regarding Psychology

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Albert Bandura was born on December 4, 1925, in Mundare, a small town in Alberta, Canada (Boeree 2006). His father, who was a laborer, originally came from Poland while his mother, who worked in a general store, was from Ukraine.

Albert was the youngest among six children. Although the whole family had no access to formal education, they gave importance to education. The father learned to read three languages: Polish, Russian, and German and engaged in educational affairs.

At a very young age, Bandura experienced difficulties in his education. He attended the only school in his town, which lacked teachers and resources for learning.

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The school had only one Mathematics textbook, for instance, and it had to be used by the students and teachers as well. But although this was the case, the school produced graduates who attended colleges and universities throughout the world. Bandura realized that the scarcity of educational resources was an enabling factor rather than a handicapping one (Boeree 2006).

During vacations, his parents would encourage him to look for experiences outside their small hamlet. Bandura experienced working as a carpenter in a furniture manufacturing plant. The skills he acquired helped him through college. He also worked as a part-time carpenter during afternoons during his college days and even filled holes in the Alaska Highway.

Bandura then attended the University of British Columbia where he took up psychology. He intended to major in one of the biological sciences, but then he worked in the afternoons to be able to support his studies. He found out that taking introductory psychology would fill his schedule in the mornings. He became enthralled and then decided to concentrate on psychology. He finished his education within three years receiving a Bolocan Award in psychology.

His accidental choice of psychology influenced his theorizing later on. He discussed in his “The Psychology of Chance Encounters and Life Paths” how the personal initiative can put people into events wherein unexpected events shape the courses that lives take(Pajares, 2004). Bandura also focused on making chance work through self-development to take advantage of fortuitous opportunities (Pajares, 2004).

Social Learning Theory

Albert Bandura is one of the leading proponents of the Social Learning Theory (Ormrod, 1999). This theory says that people learn from one another and focuses on the learning which occurs within a social context. It also says that concepts such as observational learning, modeling, and imitation are learned from around us (Ormrod, 1999).

These are the principles of the Social Learning Theory (Ormrod, 1999).. First is that people can learn through observation of the behavior of other people and their outcomes. Another principle is that, since learning comes from observation alone, it can occur without a change in the behavior. This is what social learning theorists believed. This is in contrast to what the behaviorists believed. For them, there must be a permanent change in behavior if learning took place.

The third principle says that cognition has an important part in learning. Ormrod (1999) explained that awareness and expectations of reinforcements or punishments may influence the behaviors of people. The fourth principle says that social learning theory bridges the cognitive learning theories and behaviorist learning theories.

Albert Bandura’s ideas also lead to observational learning, based on the principles discussed above. He made experiments and found out that applying consequences was not compulsory for learning to happen. A person can learn just by observing someone else.

He then devised a four-step pattern for the findings of his experiments. These are attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation (Ormrod, 1999). Attention happens when a person becomes aware of something from around him. It includes modeled events, such as affective valence, prevalence, complexity, and distinctiveness, among others, and observer characteristics, such as past reinforcement and sensory capacities (Bandura, 1977). Retention is when the person retains what he noticed.

This includes motor rehearsal and symbolic coding, among others. Reproduction happens when the producer acts with regard to what he noticed. This includes the accuracy of feedback, physical capabilities, and self-observation of reproduction. Motivation, on the other hand, takes place when the surroundings carry a consequence that will change the probability that the behavior will be produced again (Huitt, 2004). It includes reinforcement (external and vicarious), and punishment (Bandura, 1977).

Aside from this, Bandura believes that the learning process takes place with a contribution from the mind, behavior, and environment.

One of Bandura’s famous psychological experiments was the Bobo Doll Experiment which solidified his beliefs regarding learned aggression and behavior modeling. Bandura made a film about a female student of his beating a Bobo doll. A Bobo doll is an egg-shaped, inflatable balloon creature that bounced back when knocked down. The young woman punched, kicked, yelled and hit the doll. Bandura then showed the film to kindergartners.

After watching the film, the children were placed in a room full of the same toys they saw in the film. There were Bobo dolls and small hammers around. Bandura’s findings showed that the children were violent towards the doll 88% of the time (“Albert Bandura, n.d.). In short, the children imitated what the woman in the film did.

However, an article by Huitt (2004) showed that the children watched a film wherein another child acted aggressively towards a Bobo doll. It had three different endings. The first ending was that the child was praised for his behavior.

The second was that the child was not allowed to play with the toys and to just sit in a corner. The third ending consisted of the child walking out of the room. After then, the children were placed in the room and were observed. This experiment became the basis for the Social Learning Theory.

Bandura also believed that most of our behavior is learned by observation through modeling. He also believed that when we observe other people, it gives us an idea of how new behaviors are carried out, and this can be our guide for action (Bandura, 1977).

Personality Development

Albert Bandura also has contributions in personality development. He believes that personality is an interaction among environment, behavior, and the human’s psychological processes (Boeree, 2006).

He also believes that in studying a theory of personality, the social contexts where behavior is acquired and maintained must be considered. This is in support of his social learning theory, which says that our behavior is developed. Bandura believed that humans regulate and think of their own behavior (“Albert Bandura,” 2000).

According to the theory of personality, one’s environment causes one’s behavior (Boeree, 2006). Whatever happens around us can affect us and thus affect our behavior.

Bandura believes in his social learning theory that social experience, reciprocal determinism, and observational learning have important roles in the development of our personality. He also believes that the self-system of a human is composed of his abilities, attitudes, and cognitive skills. In turn, a person’s self-system helps him in the way he perceives different situations and acts according to that situation.

Bandura also believes that self-efficacy is important for one’s self-system. Self-efficacy, for him, is “the belief that in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations (1995, p.2). In short, self-efficacy is how one can function well in a given situation.

In an article about Bandura’s personality theory, it showed that changing the expectation of personal efficacy can bring change in behavior. Changing efficacy expectations can be done in four ways: enactive, persuasive, vicarious, and physiological information experience. Those who have behavioral problems can cope by making changes in personal efficacy expectations (“Albert Bandura,” 2000).

The concept of self-efficacy became important as it has an impact from psychological states to behavior and to motivation. People are aware that they can set their goals for whatever they want to achieve, and the things that they want to change. But, we also know that most of the time, doing these things is not so simple. This is where Bandura found out that self-efficacy can help in how people should approach their goals, challenges, and tasks.

For those who have strong self-efficacy, they think that challenges are tasks to be overcome. They also foster interest in the things that they want to accomplish. Moreover, as their interest deepens, their commitment also deepens. And if there were disappointments, they can easily recover.

On the other hand, people who have weak self-efficacy are the opposite. They do not like challenges as they believe that they cannot go through difficult situations. They also tend to dwell on their failures and the negative outcomes of their actions. Additionally, they lose trust and confidence in their abilities (Bandura, 1994).

According to Kear (2000), self-concept, cognitive processes, and control are the primary characteristics of self-efficacy. The sense of self is developed through experiences and interactions with other people. The author added that our self-concept contains beliefs and values and attitudes that we have learned and developed through time. When there is self-regulation, we can have a positive self-concept amidst interactions.

Control, on the other hand, focuses on two things: self-actualization and locus of control. Self-actualization, Kear (2000) explained, builds when a person has confidence in a successful performance. Locus of control, on the other hand, focuses on a causal belief about outcome determination.

 

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