Evaluation of Social Learning Theory

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We all learn something new everyday in our social lives. People learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling, as suggested by Albert Bandura’s social learning theory. In this essay, the social learning theory will be evaluated intensively through reviewing their strengths and weaknesses.

Learning is achieved through observing the behaviors, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. Human behavior, as explained in the social learning theory, is a continuous mutual interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and environmental influences. Bandura stated that most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling. From observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.”

Four conditions are necessary for effective modeling, namely attention, retention, reproduction and motivation. In attention, for learning to be achieved, the observer must first pay attention to the features of the behavior to be modeled. Various factors increase or decrease the amount of attention paid, including the personality characteristics of both the observer and the person to be observed, and also competing stimuli. In retention, the observer is required to remember and hence retain the details of the behavior of the person observed. In terms of the conditions, retention is retaining the details of the behavior you paid attention to. In reproduction, the observer reproduces the behavior in accordance with the model observed. The model behavior is processed as an image, in which the image is recreated as the observer’s behavior. The observer’s ability to reproduce a behavior improves with practice. In motivation, it is understood that the observer must have some motivation behind the reproduction of the behavior, such as an incentive. These imagined incentives act as reinforcers. Reinforces can be categorized into two groups: positive and negative. Positive reinforcers encourage continuation of reproducing the model behavior, while negative reinforcers discourage it.

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Essentially, Bandura believed that one’s behavior and their environment cause each other; whereas it was in common belief that environment caused one’s behavior. Bandura soon considered personality as an interaction between three components: the environment, behavior, and one’s psychological processes, which is an observer’s ability to reproduce a model behavior.

In Bandura’s famous bobo doll study conducted in 1961, male and female children, aged 3-6 years old, observed aggressive and non-aggressive role models and the study looked at how the behavior shown was reproduced by the children. It was found that children in the aggressive group reproduced ...

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