Social Learning Theory – Albert Bandura

It is through NLP, a cognitive behavioural science that I became very interested with learning. Was it a return to an old project? Deep inside myself I had some inner wish to become teacher. I recalled whilst I was in my early adult hood, I spent some time seriously considering a career in teaching. I dropped the idea after some time. Yet my urge for teaching has not subsided. Much later in my career, circumstances prompted me to exercise my talents as a facilitator/ teacher. After my training with the Covey Leadership Center to become a certified Covey trainer and the advent of the IVTB program encouraging businesses to train employees, I found a niche. Looking back to the numerous Covey seminars I facilitated, I could only rejoice. I had hopefully help out a number of persons and arouse in them the need to continuous learning.

The world of learning is taking forms that never before were imaged. Teaching should not be the focus. Learning is the centre piece.

And now with WEB 2.0, we are in the realm of Social Learning.  Albert Bandura is a Canadian born most cited  psychologists  behind Freud, Piaget, and Eysenck and is still living.

Social Learning Theory (Bandura)

People learn through observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. “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.” (Bandura). Social learning theory explains human behavior in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and environmental influences.

Necessary conditions for effective modeling:

  1. Attention — various factors increase or decrease the amount of attention paid. Includes distinctiveness, affective valence, prevalence, complexity, functional value. One’s characteristics (e.g. sensory capacities, arousal level, perceptual set, past reinforcement) affect attention.
  2. Retention — remembering what you paid attention to. Includes symbolic coding, mental images, cognitive organization, symbolic rehearsal, motor rehearsal
  3. Reproduction — reproducing the image. Including physical capabilities, and self-observation of reproduction.
  4. Motivation — having a good reason to imitate. Includes motives such as past (i.e. traditional behaviorism), promised (imagined incentives) and vicarious (seeing and recalling the reinforced model)

Bandura believed in “reciprocal determinism”, that is, the world and a person’s behavior cause each other, while behaviorism essentially states that one’s environment causes one’s behavior, Bandura, who was studying adolescent aggression, found this too simplistic, and so in addition he suggested that behavior causes environment as well. Later, Bandura soon considered personality as an interaction between three components: the environment, behavior, and one’s psychological processes (one’s ability to entertain images in minds and language).

Social learning theory has sometimes been called a bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory, and motivation. The theory is related to Vygotsky’s social development theory and Lave’s learning theories, which also emphasize the importance of social learning.


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