Albert Bandura is basically the man behind social learning theory, so here’s a lovely picture of him.
The theory was born from criticisms of the available alternatives at Bandura’s time of writing:
- Psychodynamic explanations of behaviour are flawed: they are based on inferred driving forces that cannot be tested, they ignore conscious cognition and they ignore situational influences.
- Radical behaviourism is flawed: it ignores cognition and emotion and assumes that reinforcement is the only way to learn; we also learn by observation/imitation.
In response, Bandura suggested the whole social learning theory, arguing that there are four basic processes of observational learning:
- Attentional Processes (attend to and accurately perceive model’s behaviour)
- Retention Processes (remember the model’s behaviour)
- Motor Reproduction Processes (translate symbolically coded memories of the model’s behaviour into new response patterns) Motivational Processes (if positive reinforcement is potentially available, enact the modelled behaviour)
This theory was tested in the super mega famous Bobo Doll Experiment (among others).
Remember how Bandura criticised psychodynamic explanations for not acknowledging situational factors in behaviour? Well, he identified which factors affect the tendency to imitate certain behaviours:
- Characteristics of models: similarity, age, sex, status, prestige, complexity of behaviour.
- Characteristics of observers: low self-confidence, low self-esteem, reinforcement for imitation.
- Rewarding consequences: directly witnessing associated rewards.
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