Last Updated 17 Aug 2022

B. F. Skinner and Albert Bandura

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B. F Skinner came up with Skinner’s theory of personality. According to the theory, differences in individual behavior are as a result of different kinds of learning experience different people encounter. Some of the behavior pattern may be learned through direct experience (direct reinforcement) while others are through observational or sensational learning. Reinforcement plays a major role in shaping the expression of the learned behavior. Reinforcement takes three shapes. Direct reinforcement involves social approval or disapproval and tangible rewards.

Vicarious reinforcement involves observing someone receive a reward or punishment for behavior similar to his/her own behavior. Self administered reinforcement is whereby a person evaluates his/her own performance with self honor or criticism (Zillman and Bryant 2001). Therefore, a given behavior in a specific situation will bank on the likely result. According to Bandura social cognitive theory, behaviorism is based on the concept that development is cultured and is subjective to environmental factors.

1). The theory put more stress in the fact that environment, behavior and cognition work together and hence wield important influence among each other (Travers 2001). In personality development, Albert Bandura came to a conclusion that environment causes behavior while on the other hand behavior causes environment. This factor led to Bandura’s idea of reciprocal determination and had a belief that an action of an individual and the action of his environment are linked together. According to his theory, personality development comes as a result of relations between environment, psychological process and behavior of an individual (Travers 2001).

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2). Discuss the similarities between each theorist’s ideas of personality Theories by B. F Skinner and Albert Bandura played a great role in the environmentalist point of view of development. The two theories are similar in stating that the environment shape learning and the behavior of an individual from childhood stage to adulthood stage (Travers 2001). Both theories recognize the significance of reinforcement in learning and behavior. In both case, motivation is embedded and reinforced by the consequences and so one can easily learn if he/she values the consequences and also one can be reinforced vicariously.

In both the theory, the individual is at the center stage of determining his/her behavior. In skinner theory, self administered reinforcement play a major role in self criticism or honor and so he/she can decide on what behavior to adopt without influence from another party. This fact is the same as in Albert Bandura theory of personality where an individual has self regulatory mechanism which provide for the potential for self directed change and for the capability of one influencing his own behavior (Zillman and Bryant 2001). This is inclined to self observation, self decision and self-reaction.

3) Discuss the differences between the theorists’ ideas of personality (include any reasoning for the differences—personal history B. F. Skinner theory of personality differ with Albert Bandura social cognitive theory in that it specified that a behavior was only as a reaction of environmental stimuli while social cognitive theory state that behavior of an individual can be modified by external stimuli while putting into consideration the fact that learning can take place through copying. Albert Bandura also state that learning also take a cognitive perspective.

Skinner theory of personality provides room for operant conditioning while Bandura social cognitive theory does not. In Skinner theory of personality, the behavior is influenced by the environment and it is a one way tier while in Albert Bandura social cognitive theory, the behavior of an individual is influenced by the environment while at the same time, the environment is influenced by the individual behavior and so it is a two way tier. 4) Discuss each theorist’s ideas concerning the role of society in the development of personality and any developmental stages

Albert Bandura’s idea about the role of society concerning the development of personality and any developmental stage in cognitivism, behavior is guided by cognitions about the world. The cognitive theories are personality theories which stress on cognitive processes like thinking and offering judgment. Bandura’s theory further draws the importance of modeling through the social cognitive theory, in that as a result of direct training of an individual in the society or conditioning (for instance through reinforcement a child is subjected to such as punishment) models behavior hence development of personality (Travers 2001).

Through the influence of the society, an individual learns several issues from childhood which help in development of personality. Through this idea of social learning, the role played by role models in development of personality becomes very significant. B. F. Skinner also gives a perspective of personality development that is based on learning through others in the society.

Skinner (Quoted in Travers 2001: 156) also further notes that the adolescent stage of human development requires that the positive behaviors exhibited by the adolescents since adolescents are more vigorous in repeating the behavior for which they have obtained reinforcement.

Reference List: Travers, F. , John, (2001). “Human growth and development through the lifep” Jones & Bartlett Publishers Zillman, D. and Bryant, J. (2001). “Media effects: Advances in theory and research 2nd Edition,” NJ Lawrence Erlbaum; Hillsdale: <http://www. fca. pucminas. br/saogabriel/raop/pdf/social_cognitive_theory. pdf. >

Analysis of Bandura’s Cognitive Theory and Beck’s Cognitive Theory

The study of human behavior or behaviorism focuses on attributes of humanity that are discernible, measurable and which can be manipulated. The emphasis of behaviorism is on experimental methods and avoids attributes that are subjective, internal or unavailable.

The experimental method involves the manipulation of one variable and measurement of its effect on another variable. It is from the study of variable and effects that a Canadian psychologist, Albert Bandura found the cognitive theory (or social cognitive theory) (Bandura, 2006).

Bandura for instance observed aggressive behavior in adolescents and opined that the aggressiveness is caused by the environment in which the adolescents grow. On the other hand, he also realized that behavior causes an environment as well.

Thus, since behavior and environment are causes and effects of each other, Bandura referred to the concept as reciprocal determinism (Bandura1986). In short, Bandura’s theory was based on the fact that the world and a person’s character (behavior) affect each other (Bandura, 1986).

While it would appear that the environment was the cause of behavior and personality, Bandura also realized that personality is an interaction of a person’s psychological responses in relation to the environment (Bandura, 2006).

The psychological processes consist of the human being’s ability to entertain different images and languages. Thus, the cognitive theory is built on two essential principles. The first one is a framework for explaining how different personalities function, whereas the other one addresses the type of variables (that is the elements of analysis) on which the personality theory should be centred (Bandura, 2006).

In analysis of the influence of reciprocal determinism, Bandura categorically uses the word “determinism” to imply the aspect in which effects are produced by events (Bandura, 2006). However, this opinion does not mean that a human being’s actions arise from straightforward and predictable chains of cause and consequence.

Rather, it implies that events produce effects by chance. As a result, the probability or chance of an event producing an effect is emphasized in Bandura’s cognitive theory (Bandura, 2006). Perhaps the most significant aspect of Bandura’s theory is the way in which the theory treats behavior.

Unlike many other theoretical frameworks, this theory has equal action on both the input of the personality and the output of personality (Bandura, 1986). In essence, Bandura’s opinion is that a person’s actions and the resultant effects shape the person’s aptitude, feelings and belief in one self (Bandura, 2006).

For example, many behaviorist theories depict scant curiosity in self-process because the theorists assume that human functioning is caused by external stimulus rather than the internal stimulus which is only considered as transmitting rather than causing behavior (Bandura, 1986).

This paper critically evaluates the notable features of Bandura’s cognitive theory and discusses in detail the viewpoint of the Bandura at the time of formulation of the theory and the theory’s subsequent modification.

The paper will also appraise the strengths and weaknesses of the theory based on the discussion. Analysis of the salient features of Bandura’s cognitive theory The most notable feature of Bandura’s social cognitive theory is the concept of reciprocal determinism (Bandura, 1986).

Reciprocal determinism is a phenomenon that implies the causes and effects of different actions on behavior and environment and how they affect each other. Thus, Bandura’s theory was based on the point that personal factors in the form of cognition, biological events and affect, behavior and environmental factors create interfaces that result in a triadic reciprocality as illustrated in Figure 1. Bandura modified the label of his theory from the common perspective of social learning to social cognitive in order to distance it from the common social learning theories of his time (Bandura, 1986).

He also wanted to lay emphasis on the idea that cognition plays a significant role in people’s capability to construct reality, regulate their personality, encode information and display other kinds of behavior. According to Bandura (1971), the reciprocal form of the determinants of individual human functioning in social cognitive theory enables services such as therapeutic and counseling efforts to be rendered with focus on personal environment or behavioral factors as illustrated in the diagram above.

Based on this, strategies to improve a person’s well-being can be aimed at ameliorating the emotional, cognitive and motivational process of the human being (Bandura, 1986). The focus can also be on improving behavioral capabilities or changing the communal conditions under which people live and work.

As an example, teachers in schools have a role to not only improve their students’ academic learning and confidence, but also boost their (students’) self-beliefs and habits of thinking. Hence, teachers and students have to embrace all the components of Bandura’s triadic expression of cognitive theory.

As earlier mentioned, Bandura’s social cognitive theory sets itself aside from other theories that overemphasize the role played by environmental factors in the development of human behavior (Bandura, 1986; Bandura, 2006).

These theories are often dismissed since they have the redundant factor of cause and effect that is unworthy in the context of evaluating the psychological aspect of human beings. Thus according to Bandura, psychology per se without a clear self-examination cannot purport to explain the complexities of human intricacies of human functioning.

Bandura (1986) further noted it is by evaluating their own conscious minds that people discern their own psychological processes. Therefore, in order to predict how the human behavior is affected by environmental outcomes, it is imperative that the individual’s cognitive process and how he or she interprets the outcomes be understood.

Personal determinants An important factor in addressing how a person interprets the outcomes is recognition of the personal determinants. This is affected by the choice of variables to be used in the evaluation process.

Bandura’s choice for such variable depicts what may be the most distinctive aspect of human life, that is, people have abilities to adapt to different environments (Bandura, 1986). For instance, people are able to live in a variety of physical environments such as deserts, rainforests, Polar Regions and so on.

They are also able to live and engage in a variety of social environments such as nomadic systems, diverse religious beliefs, different socio economic and socio cultural activities and so on. People also exhibit a variety of unique capabilities that cannot be attributed to the occurrence of evolution over time (Bandura, 1971).

In fact, the list of human beings’ unique capabilities relative to animals cannot be exhausted in a single book. Hence, in order to perform an analysis of psychological functioning, one must specify the psychological mechanisms that facilitate the unique capabilities. Bandura’s (1986) theory has a focal point on the cognitive methods that enable people to learn about the world around them (environment) and also about themselves, and use the knowledge gained to control their behavior and mental experiences.

In particular, Bandura (1986) enlisted five basic capabilities that facilitate the learning process, as described below. Symbolizing capability implies the ability of people to represent their knowledge symbolically. The most common symbolic representation or conveyance of messages is language (Bandura, 1971). The ability to use symbols in terms of language is perhaps the most fundamental capability in human beings as it serves as a leeway for the other capabilities.

Vicarious capability is the ability to acquire skills, knowledge and other emotional tendencies through observation or a similar approach (Bandura, 1971). Bandura’s (2006) assiduous analysis of vicarious processes that are involved in acquiring skills makes the cognitive theory not only realistic but also unusually easy to comprehend and interpret. In addition, it clears most of the issues that are usually overlooked by psychological theories such how people acquire knowledge and skills that enable them to act efficiently.

According to Bandura (1997), vicarious capability enables people to keep away from risky or costly undertakings that could lead to fatal outcomes. This is because the people ideally have a sense of experience by observing their own characters relative to the characters or behavior of others.

Bandura (1986) referred to the ability to anticipate future contingencies as the forethought capability of human beings. Forethought capability is vital for both emotional and motivational perspectives of life.

For instance, contrary to popular belief, psychological distress arises from peoples’ anticipated dreadful experiences and not the present or actual experiences. It is because of the ability to derive alternative approaches that one can foresee the consequences of an action without actually being involved in it.

According to Bandura (1986), the fourth unique human capability is the self-regulatory capability. This is the capacity of an individual to set goals. In addition, this capability allows individuals to evaluate their performance in relation to their own (internal) standards of performance.

Bandura (1986) further noted that the ability of people to evaluate their self-concept, esteem and values enables them have a sense of self-direction and ability to lead life without much reliance on others. Much similar to the above capability is the self-reflective capability.

According to Bandura (1997), this is the capacity of human beings to have personal thoughts. In this context, personal reflections lay a course for action and formulation of ideas by individuals based on self-efficacy. The aforementioned capabilities do not work in isolation but in concert.

In particular, according to Bandura (1997), the aspects of self-reflection, self-regulation and forethought act in synergy to form a self-system, which comprises the framework of personality. Furthermore, people are able to control their emotions and social lives by integrating the constituents of the self-system (Bandura, 1986).

Self-reflection in particular is “distinctly human” and forms a prominent feature of the social cognitive theory. Through self-reflection, individuals derive sense from their experiences and embrace their cognitions and self-beliefs.

Consequently, they are able to engage in self-evaluation and are able to shift their thinking and behavior accordingly (Bandura, 1986). Self-efficacy When the capabilities so far described are integrated effectively, the self-system acquires a state of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997).

Perceived self-efficacy refers to people’s ability to evaluate their own efficiencies in solving problems and attaining certain levels of performance (Bandura, 1997). The relevance of perceived self-efficacy to the social cognitive theory postulated by Bandura is that self-efficacy judgments have a pervasive role in human affairs.

In the scope of both achievements and interpersonal relationships, people’s stances are calculated by how effectively (and wisely) they can make decisions and how efficiently they can act in fulfilling the decisions taken. From the above perspective, it is evident that evaluation between an individual’s skills and the requirements of the environment is pertinent in determining the courses of action that are viewed as being the determinants of one’s personality. Efficacy beliefs are vital in that not only do they act on overt behavior but they also address the internal psychological affairs of individuals.

This is an important aspect of the social cognition theory with respect to the triadic scheme. This is because an individual’s personality is judged from acts that are done both overtly and covertly. In view of Bandura’s (1997) ideas, people with robust perceptions of their efficacy envisage more positive futures, experience less distressing emotions, and are capable of planning for their life programs more effectively. In addition, such people are able to deal with demanding tasks more efficiently than people who have lower opinion of their efficacy. How personal determinants relate with individual differences and dispositions

With reference to Bandura (1999), the basic capacities of the social cognitive theory are dissimilar in three ways from the units of measurement employed in the character-related theories of personality. To begin with, the capabilities are not single variable differences with reference to personality.

For instance, Bandura (1999) accentuated that a single-difference analysis may hinder the realization of other vital capabilities possessed by an individual. Such an instance would occur if the ability in an individual is rare and is therefore not detected as an important factor in analysis (Bandura, 1999).

As is common with many forms of analysis, there is usually an investigation for a small number of primary units of variation, or for capabilities that are common but possessed to uniformly high level by many individuals.

The fact that almost everyone possesses a unique capability (for example the ability to use symbols of the ability to be self-reflective and self–conscious) does not necessarily make the capabilities less important in the context of the functioning of personality. These capabilities are still important in spite of the fact that they may not be identified as the primary dimensions of individual dissimilarity.

The second difference in the context of the capabilities in the social cognitive theory is related to average tendencies. For instance, Bandura’s (1999) category of cognitive capabilities does not just mention the average tendencies.

Rather, Bandura opines that self-reflection and self-regulation contribute to both constancy and variability of actions among individuals. Along this line, it is important to note that people’s goals, choices and cognitive abilities are displayed in the manner in which they act and handle different circumstances that they come across in their lives.

This point is of importance in describing an individual’s personality (Bandura, 1999). It implies that dispositional characteristics per se cannot suffice the description of personality as they refer to the average tendencies in behavior and are devoid of reference to particular individuals (Bandura, 1999).

In addition, a single individual’s social cognitive may not contribute significantly to the distinct patterns of behavior that are not in line with the contemporary descriptive characteristics that are used in the analysis of standard individual difference categories.

The third point is that the social cognitive theory’s definition of personality and the role personality factors play in contribution to social behavior is significantly different from the dispositional approach. The social cognitive theory does not view dispositional tendencies as personality structures. Instead, the theory realizes personality structures as consisting of cognitive and affective systems, which contribute to the patterns of individuals’ behavior in a much informal way. These, according to Bandura (1999), are the dispositional tendencies.

In this context therefore, dispositions are effects and not causes. Bandura opposed the proponents of personality description based on behavior as being mistaken since the aspects of behavioral description “locate the personality structure in the wrong place” (Bandura, 1999, p 200).

Therefore, the Bandura’s social cognitive theory views the standard dispositional units of personality description as being inadequate to fully describe an individual or to explain his or her personality functioning. Strengths and weaknesses of the theory

As discussed, Bandura’s theory has many points of strength, notable of which being that it describes the relationship between behavior and the environment. In addition, the theory gives a clear picture of how behaviors are learned and developed.

On the other hand, it is evident that the theory puts too much emphasis on what happens to people rather than what the people do. Along the same line, the theory does not address consistent differences among individuals as they go through different developmental stages. a

Bandura Theories On Social Cognition

Albert Bandura`s social learning theory places learning in a social context. Bandura and his colleagues take the position that personality is acquired, or learned behavior. In particular, Bandura`s insistence that behavior can be learned from mere observation is a significant departure from Skinner’s behaviorist position. An original empirical demonstration of observational learning was presented in a study by Bandura, Ross, and Ross (1993). Nursery school children were allowed to watch an adult’s unusual aggressive actions against an inflated Bobo doll – the kind that pops back up after it has been punched or knocked down.

The adult models hit the doll with a hammer and kicked it, tossed it in the air, and even sat on it and punched it. After merely observing this behavior, the children were later allowed to play with toys that included the Bobo doll and hammer. The children who observed the adult model, either live or on videotape, hit the doll more frequently than a control group who had not seen a model. They also tended to hit the doll the way they had observed the adult model do it. Bandura interpreted this study as demonstrating that the probability of behavior can be strengthened through observation.

Indeed, in Bandura`s approach to personality, much of one’s behavior is learned and strengthened through imitation, which is a kind of social cognition learning. In this term paper I address the difference in the effectiveness of using simulation intervention program based on a Bandura`s Social learning theory. Moreover, to find out if the program improves either or both the quality and speed of the learning process of students enrolled in a highly technical training program. This term paper focuses on using simulation based learning environments in vocational training program.

In this paper, the experimental methodology and instruments are described, results and findings presented and finally discussed and concluded. METHODOLOGY Doing my research on Bandura`s Social learning theory in complex simulation-based learning environments, I experienced a large difference in how learners reacted to my learning material (Kluge, in press, 2004). Complex technical simulations involve the placement of the learner into a realistic computer simulated situation or technical scenario which puts control back into the learner’s hands. The contextual content of simulations allows the learner to “learn by doing.

” Although my primary purpose was in improving research methods and testing procedures for evaluating learning results of simulation-based learning, the different reaction of the participants were so obvious that I took a closer look. I had two different groups participating in my learning experiments: students from an engineering department at the University, mostly in their 3rd semester, and apprentices from vocational training programs in mechanics and electronics of several companies near the University area in their 3rd year of vocational training.

Most of the students worked very intensively and concentrated on solving these complex simulation tasks whereas apprentices became easily frustrated and bored. Purposes of the Study Although my first research purpose was not in investigating the differences between these groups, colleagues and practitioners showed their interest and encouraged me to look especially at that difference. Practitioners especially hoped to find explanations why apprentices sometimes are less enthusiastic about simulation learning although it is said to be motivating for their perception.

As mentioned above, my primary purpose when I started to investigate learning and simulation based on Bandura`s Social Cognition theories was focused on improving the research methodology and test material (see Kluge, in press, 2004) for experimenting with simulation-based learning environments. But observing the subjects’ reactions to the learning and testing material the question arose whether there might be a difference in the quality of and speed of the learning process of students involved in my study.

Research Design A 3-factor 2 ? 2 ? 2 factorial control-group-design was performed (factor 1: “Simulation complexity”: ColorSim 5 vs ColorSim 7; factor 2: “support method”: GES vs. DI-GES; factor 3: target group, see Table 2). Two hundred and fifteen mostly male students (16% female) in eight groups (separated into four experimental and four control groups) participated in the main study.

The control group served as a treatment check for the learning phase and to demonstrate whether subjects acquired any knowledge within the learning-phase. While the experimental groups filled in the knowledge test at the end of the experiment (after the learning and the transfer tasks), the control groups filled in the knowledge test directly after the learning phase. I did not want to give the knowledge test to the experimental group after the learning phase because of its sensitivity to testing-effects.

I assumed that learners who did not acquire the relevant knowledge in the learning phase could acquire useful knowledge by taking the knowledge test, which could have led to a better transfer performance which is not due to the learning method but caused by learning from taking the knowledge test. The procedure subjects had to follow included a learning phase in which they explored the structure of the simulation aiming at knowledge acquisition.

After the learning phase, subjects first had to fill in the four-item questionnaire on self-efficacy before they performed 18 transfer tasks. The transfer tasks were separated into two blocks (consisting of nine control tasks each) by a 30-minute break. In four experimental groups (EG), 117 students and apprentices performed the learning phase (28 female participants), the 18 control tasks and the knowledge test. As said before, the knowledge test was applied at the end because of its sensitivity to additional learning effects caused by filling in the knowledge test.

In four control groups (CG), 98 students and apprentices performed the knowledge test directly after the learning phase, without working on the transfer task (four female participants). The EGs took about 2-2. 5 hours and the CG about 1. 5 hours to finish the experiment. Both groups (EGs and CGs) were asked to take notes during the learning phase. Subjects were randomly assigned to the EGs and CGs, nonetheless ensuring that the same number of students and apprentices were in each group. The Simulation-Based Learning Environment

The computer-based simulation ColorSim, which we had developed for our experimental research previously, was used in two different variants. The simulation is based on the work by Funke (1993) and simulates a small chemical plant to produce colors for later subsequent processing and treatment such as dyeing fabrics. The task is to produce a given amount of colors in a predefined number of steps (nine steps). To avoid the uncontrolled influence of prior knowledge, the structure of the plant simulation cannot be derived from prior knowledge of a certain domain, but has to be learned by all subjects.

ColorSim contains three endogenous variables (termed green, black, and yellow) and three exogenous variables (termed x, y, and z ). Figure 1 illustrates the ColorSim screen. Subjects control the simulation step by step (in contrast to a real time running continuous control). The predefined goal states of each color have to be reached by step nine. Subjects enter values for x, y, and z within the range of 0-100. There is no time limit for the transfer tasks. During the transfer tasks, the subjects have to reach defined system states for green (e. g. , 500), black (e. g.

, 990), and yellow (e. g. , 125) and/or try to keep the variable values as close as possible to the values defined as goal states. Subjects are instructed to reach the defined system states at the end of a multi-step process of nine steps. The task for the subjects was first to explore or learn about the simulated system (to find out the causal links between the system variables), and then to control the endogenous variables by means of the exogenous variables with respect to a set of given goal states. With respect to the empirical evidence of Funke (2001) and Strau?

(1995), the theoretical concept for the variation in complexity is based on Woods’ (1986) theoretical arguments that complexity depends on an increasing number of relations between a stable number of (in this case six) variables (three input, three output: for details of the construction rational and empirical evidence (Kluge, 2004) Altogether, empirical findings and theoretical assumptions have so far led to the conclusion that experiential learning needs additional support to enhance knowledge acquisition and transfer.

Target Population and Participant Selection: In the introductory part, I mentioned that there were two sub groups in the sample which I see as different target groups for using simulation-based learning environments. Subjects were for the most part recruited from the technical departments of a Technical University (Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electronics, Information Technology as well as apprentices from the vocational training programs in mechanics

Bandura Theory of Social Learning

Learning is a social process and we learn through interaction with others in our day to day life. Prior to 1960, theories of learning were heavily influenced by behaviorist and cognitivist theories. But Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory posits that people learn from one another - via observation, imitation, and modeling. The social learning theory has often been called a bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it includes attention, memory, and motivation.

As a result, it is sometimes called social cognitive learning. While rooted in many of the basic concepts of traditional learning theory, Bandura believed that direct reinforcement could not account for all types of learning. His theory added a social element, arguing that people can learn new information and behaviors by watching other people known as observational learning (or modeling).

The social learning theory emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes and emotional reactions of others. Thus it focuses on learning by observation and modeling. Social learning theory talks about how both environmental and cognitive factors interact to influence human learning and behavior. It focuses on the learning that occurs within a social context. It considers that people learn from one another.

In Social Context

Behavioral factors + Cognitive factors -> Social Learning

Meaning :

According to Albert Bandura (1977), “In social learning theory, behavior is learned from the environment through the process of observational learning.” Social learning is the process in which individuals observe the behavior of others and its consequences, and modify their own behavior accordingly.

Bandura’s theory of social learning: Basic Social Learning Concepts

There are three core concepts at the heart of social learning theory.

  1. Learning through observation
  2. Intrinsic Reinforcement
  3. Change in behavior is not necessary for learning
  4. Learning through Observation (Observational Learning) :

In 1961, Bandura demonstrated the now-famous Bobo doll experiments. The Bobo doll is a child-sized inflatable doll with a weighted bottom that causes it to pop back up after being knocked down. In the first stage of these studies, preschool-aged children were divided into three groups: one group that observed an adult (model) behaving aggressively towards the Bobo doll (punching, kicking, striking with a mallet, yelling), another group that observed the adult playing peacefully, and a control group. Each participant viewed their assigned scenario individually.

Later, the child was allowed to play independently in the play room which contained a variety of aggressive and non-aggressive toys, including the Bobo doll. Participants’ acts of verbal and physical aggression toward the Bobo doll were then recorded. Results revealed significant group differences, such that children exposed to the aggressive model were more likely to imitate what they had seen and behave aggressively toward the doll. Bandura argued that the results supported that children could rapidly acquire novel behaviors through the process of observation and imitation, and this occurred even in the absence of any kind of reinforcement.

In 1963, Bandura demonstrated that children imitated aggressive behavior witnessed on video, in addition to live observation, and children also imitated aggressive behaviors enacted by a cartoon character. (In his famous Bobo doll experiment, Bandura demonstrated that children learn and imitate behaviors they have observed in other people.

The children in Bandura’s studies observed an adult acting violently toward a Bobo doll. When the children were later allowed to play in a room with the Bobo doll, they began to imitate the aggressive actions they had previously observed.)

Social learning theory draws heavily on the concept of modeling, Bandura identified three types of models:

  1. Live model: An actual person is demonstrating the desired behavior.
  2. Verbal instructional Model: An individual explains and describes the desired behavior in details.
  3. Symbolic Model: Modeling occurs by means of the media including movies, television, Internet, literature and radio.

Stimuli can be either real or fictional characters. The mental States are important to learning (Intrinsic Reinforcement) An additional study, published in 1965, showed that witnessing the model being punished for the aggressive behavior decreased the likelihood that children would imitate the behavior, a process he referred to as vicarious reinforcement. At the same time, Bandura noted that internal rewards such as pride, satisfaction, sense of accomplishment also influence the learning which he described as intrinsic reinforcement.

Learning does not necessarily lead to a change in behavior: While behaviorist believed that learning led to a permanent change in behaviour, social learning demonstrates that people can learn new information without demonstrating new behaviours.

Key Principles of social learning theory :

  1. Learning is not purely behavioral; rather, it is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context.
  2. Learning can occur by observing a behavior and by observing the consequences of the behavior (vicarious reinforcement).
  3. Learning involves observation, extraction of information from those observations, and making decisions about the performance of the behavior (observational learning or modeling). Thus, learning can occur without an observable change in behavior.
  4. Reinforcement plays a role in learning but is not entirely responsible for learning.
  5. The learner is not a passive recipient of information. Cognition, environment, and behavior all mutually influence each other (reciprocal determinism).

The Modeling Process :

Not all observed behaviors are effectively learned. Factors involving both the model and the learner can play a role in whether social learning is successful. Certain requirements and steps must also be followed. The following steps are involved in the observational learning and modeling process:

  • Attention: "I Never seen or thought this Before". In order to learn, you need to be paying attention. Anything that detracts your attention is going to have a negative effect on observational learning. If the model interesting or there is a novel aspect to the situation, you are far more likely to dedicate your full attention to learning.
  • Retention: "I Figured Out What I have to do". The ability to store information is also an important part of the learning process. Retention can be affected by a number of factors, but the ability to pull up information later and act on it is vital to observational learning?
  • Reproduction: "Why Not Do It? It Worked Out Fine for others". Once you have paid attention to the model and retained the information, it is time to actually perform the behavior you observed. Further practice of the learned behavior leads to improvement and skill advancement.
  • Motivation: “This action is giving me satisfaction”

Finally, in order for observational learning to be successful, you have to be motivated to imitate the behavior that has been modeled. Reinforcement and punishment play an important role in motivation. While experiencing these motivators can be highly effective, so can observing other experience some type of reinforcement or punishment. For example, if you see another student rewarded with extra credit for being to class on time, you might start to show up a few minutes early each day. Vicarious reinforcement – behavior is acceptable

Vicarious punishment – behavior is unacceptable


Learning by observation (models): students learn simply by observing other people. Modeling provides an alternative to shaping for teaching new behaviors. Instead of using shaping, which is operant conditioning, modeling can provide a faster, more efficient means for teaching new behavior. To promote effective modeling a teacher must make sure that the four essential conditions exist; attention, retention, motor reproduction, and motivation. Cognition plays a role in learning

Learning can occur without change in behavior

Teachers and parents must model appropriate behaviors and take care that they don’t model inappropriate ones. Teachers should expose students to a variety of other models. Students must believe that they are capable of accomplishing school tasks. Teachers should help students set realistic
expectations for their academic accomplishments. Self-regulation techniques provide effective methods for improving behavior. Describing the consequences of behavior increases appropriate behavior and decreases inappropriate ones. Examples

Advertisements/TV commercials are the most common examples of Social Learning Theory. We observe (watch) them, and then copy them. Commercials suggest that drinking a certain beverage or using a particular shampoo will make us popular and win the admiration of attractive people. Depending on the component processes involved (such as attention or motivation), we may model the behavior shown in the commercial and buy the product being advertised. Language learning is another common example of Social Learning Theory. A student tries to imitate or mimic his/her teacher while the teacher demonstrates.


In addition to influencing other psychologists, Bandura's social learning theory has had important implication in the field of education. The social learning theory proposed by Albert Bandura (1925) has become perhaps the most influential theory of learning and development. Today, both teachers and parents recognize the importance of modeling appropriate behaviors. Other classroom strategies such as encouraging children and building self-efficacy are also rooted in social learning theory.

Social learning theory posits that knowledge acquisition is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context and can occur purely through observation or direct instruction, even in the absence of motor reproduction or direct reinforcement. In addition to the observation of behavior, learning also occurs through the observation of rewards and punishments, a process known as of vicarious reinforcement.

Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory

Bandura’s social cognitive theory puts more emphasis on social origins of behavior. His social cognitive approach focuses on cognitive factors that are central to human functioning. He defines human behavior as vibrant and reciprocal interaction of personal factors behavior and the environment.

The theory contends that behavior is largely regulated through cognitive processes. He adds that through the observations of models, an individual’s perceptions and action influence cognitive development. Bandura gives three types of models; live, symbolic and verbal instructions (Boeree, 2006).

The theory states that learning can occur in the absence of direct reinforcement; rather people can learn new information and behaviors by watching other people and models. In learning, the learner must have a sense of self-efficacy which is termed as the learner’s belief that they can execute complex skills successfully.

This perception provides the learner with an ability of self- direction. The use of models influence learner’s self systems and as a result cognitive development becomes an independent process of observational learning.

Additionally, observational learning involved four main steps which include attention, retention, reproduction and motivation. The implication in psychotherapy is that if you get an individual with a psychological disorder to observe someone dealing with the same issues in a wide productive fashion, the first individual will learn by modeling the second person.

Bandura acknowledges that individual’s behavior is conditioned through the use of consequences. In psychotherapy, research is very vital and behaviorism is the most preferred approach (Bandura, 2001).

Another concept which is applied in psychotherapy is locus of control. For instance, when persons believe they can alter their situation, they are said to have an internal locus of control and when they believe they cannot alter their situations they are said to have an external locus of control.


Bandura, A. (2001). Social Cognitive Theory: An Agentic Perspective. Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 2, p. 4-7.

Boeree, G. (2006). Albert Bandura 1925- Present. Retrieved August 10, 2010 from http://webspace. ship. edu/cgboer/bandura. html.

B. F. Skinner and Albert Bandura essay

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