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Social Learning Theory

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Describe and discuss atleast two features of the social learning theory (10) Social learning theory looks at the social factors and mental processing in human learning. Like behaviourism, it accepts that humans can learn by classical and operant conditioning, but SLT emphasises that humans learn a lot by observation, and imitation of role models. For example, someone must pay attention and perceive what their role model does, think about the purpose of the behaviour they observe, and remember it to accurately reproduce it later. ...read more.


The mediating cognitive factors are attention, retention, motor reproduction and motivation. Vicarious conditioning is when the consequences of the model's actions have an important influence on us. Vicarious reinforcement is when the model's actions have a desirable consequence and therefore we are more likely to imitate the action. Vicarious punishment is when there was an undesirable outcome and therefore we are less likely to imitate. The characteristics of the role model are also important. We are more likely to imitate models who we see have desirable qualities (e.g. ...read more.


It also explains the learning of complex human behaviours such as aggressions (e.g. bandura's bobo doll experiment). But the social learning theory has its limitations as the bobo doll experiment is artificial and lacks ecological validity. The laboratory experiment is difficult to generalise to real life situations. The approach also says all behaviour is learnt but it neglects and ignores the role of the biological approach and genetics (e.g. the effects of testosterone). It also fails to account for all behaviour e.g. if we learn by observing others, why does a criminal become an offender when they haven't been in contact with crime. Overall the social learning explains a lot and has much strength which makes it reliable. ...read more.

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