Evaluate Social Learning Theory

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The Social Learning Theory was first introduced by Albert Bandura. This type of learning is also known as Observational learning. Social learning occurs by the process of observing a model behaving a certain way, and then replicating that behavior. This theory was a very important contribution to psychology because it explained how behavior was learnt simply by observation. This theory has both advantages and limitations.

A strength of this theory is that it explains some behavior that is not explained by classical and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning is learning by association, while operant conditioning is learning by consequences. This aspect of the theory can evidently be seen in the “Bobo Doll Experiment” carried out by Bandura in 1961. In this experiment the participants consisted of 36 boys and 36 girls, all aged  3 to 6. The children were then divided into three groups of 24, with 12 boys and 12 girls in each group. The children were examined beforehand so that there was an even spread of personalities across the groups. The first group was the control group. The second group was the aggressor group. And the third group was the passive group. In the three conditions, the children were put in the corner of a room with toys that they could not touch. In the control condition, there was no adult model in the room. In the aggressive condition there was a Bobo doll and a mallet in the corner of the room, the adult then expressed aggressive behavior towards the Bobo Doll. In the third condition the adult played passively with the Bobo Doll as the child watched. In all conditions the child was kept in the room for 10 minutes. They were then put in another room filled with toys. But were told that they could not touch the toys because they were for other kids. This was done to build up the child’s frustration. After 20 minutes in the room, the child was taken to another room where they were allowed to play with the toys. They were watched to see if they reproduced aggressive behavior. The results showed that those kids exposed to an aggressive model were more likely to show aggressive behavior. Boys were three times more likely to show physically aggressive behavior than girls. This is because aggression from men is more socially accepted. Both the sexes showed an equal amount of verbal aggression. This study shows how the social learning theory can explain behavior learnt from observations.

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Another strength of this theory is that it has cognitive, cultural, and biological aspects involved in it. On a cultural level, this theory explains how cultural behavior may be passed on by observations. On a biological level this shows how mirror neurons play a role in imitation. Mirror Neurons are Neurons that fire signals when behavior is being imitated. Finally, another strength of this theory is that cognitions are involved in the process. Attention and retention are large parts of the process. Because a subject must attend to the behavior of the model to learn that behavior must then go ...

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