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Social Learning Theory

One difficulty with many learning theories is their


almost exclusive emphasis on the processes of
acquisition of behavior and performance, and their
almost total neglect of the content of personality
~Julian Rotter, 1972
Radical Behaviorism
Pros and Cons
Pros: Scientific
Deals with observable, measurable
phenomena
Rigorous methodology
Con: Ignores the things that make
humans human
Cognitions
Emotions
Free Will
Therefore.
Albert Banduras
(1960s +) Social
Learning Theory
aka Social
Cognitive Theory
Put the person
back into
personality
Theoretical Foundations of
Social Learning Theory
Psychodynamic explanations of behavior are
flawed
They are based on inferred drives/needs/etc.,
which cannot be tested
They ignore conscious cognitions
They ignore situational influences
Radical behaviorism is flawed
It ignores cognition and emotion (Rotters
content of personality)
e.g., Assumes that actual reinforcement is necessary for
learning to occur
e.g., Rejects free will
Banduras Triadic Model of
Reciprocal Determinism
Environmental
Influences
Personal Factors
(beliefs, expectations,
self-perceptions)
Overt
Behavior
Beyond Reinforcement 1
External reinforcement isnt the only way in
which behavior is acquired, maintained, or
altered
We can also learn by observing, reading, or
hearing about others behavior
We develop anticipated consequences for our
behaviors
Even for behaviors were never engaged in
Our cognitive abilities give us the capability for insight
and foresight
Beyond Reinforcement 2
Banduras biggest contribution to learning
theory:
New patterns of behavior can be acquired in
the absence of external reinforcement
We can pay attention to what others do, and
repeat their actions
i.e., We learn through observation, rather than
through direct reinforcement
Self-Regulation and Cognition
We can exercise control over our behavior
through self-regulation
We are not slaves to environmental influences
We have free will
Cognition allows us to use previous experiences,
rather than trial-and-error, to foresee probable
consequences of our acts, and behave
accordingly
Self-regulation allows us to choose behaviors
that help us to avoid punishments and move
towards long-term goals
Bandura et al., 1963
Subjects
48 boys and 48 girls
attending Stanford U
Nursery School
Mean age 4.3 years
Ss are matched across
experimental groups for
degree of aggressive
behavior shown in
nursery school
interaction
Exposure to an
aggressive model
(4 conditions)
1. Observe an adult model
behave aggressive
2. Observe same adult model
and same behaviors, but
on film
3. Observe same behaviors
performed by a cartoon
character
4. Control group (no
observations)
Response measures
1. Total aggression
2. Imitative
aggression
3. Partially imitative
responses
Mallet aggression
Sitting on the Bobo
doll
4. Nonimitative
aggression
Aggressive gun play
Bandura et al. Results 1:
Total Aggression
Female Male Female Male
Real life model Film model
Cartoon
Model
No Model
Control
Girls Boys
Bandura et al. Results 2:
Imitative Aggression
Female Male Female Male
Real life model Film model
Cartoon Control
Girls Boys
Bandura et al. Results 3:
Partially Imitative Responses
F M F M
Real life Film
Cat Cntrl
Mallet Aggression
F
M
F
M
Real life
Film
Cat
Cntrl
Sits On Bobo Doll
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
G
i
r
l
s

B
o
y
s

G
i
r
l
s

B
o
y
s

G
i
r
l
s

B
o
y
s

G
i
r
l
s

B
o
y
s

Total
Aggression
Imitative
Aggression
Mallet
Aggression
Sit on
Bobo Doll
Real life mode
Female
Real life model
Male
Film model
Female
Film model
Male
Cartoon
Control
Implications:
Eron & Heusmann, 1985
0
10
20
30
40
50
DV: Seriousness of Criminal Act by Age 30
Low Low Med Med High High
Frequency of TV Viewing at Age 8
Females Males
Modeling
We learn much of what we do through
observing and speaking with others
(models), rather than through personal
experience
We form a cognitive image of how to
perform certain behaviors through
modeling, and use this image as a guide
for later behaviors
Basic Processes of
Observational Learning 1
1. Attentional Processes
(attend to and accurately
perceive models behavior)
2. Retention Processes
(remember the
models behavior)
Basic Processes of Observational
Learning 2
3. Motor Reproduction Processes
(translate symbolically coded
memories of the models behavior
into new response patterns)
4. Motivational Processes
(if positive reinforcement is
potentially available, enact the
modeled behavior)
Reinforcement in Observational
Learning
Types of Reinforcement
Vicarious reinforcement
Vicarious positive reinforcement
Vicarious punishment
Self-reinforcement
Reward or punish self for meeting or failing to
meet own standards
Empirical Evidence of
Observational Learning
Children who see an adult behave aggressively might
view that aggressive behavior as a positive thing (i.e.,
expect positive reinforcement of some type for that
behavior), and therefore might imitate that aggressive
behavior
Bandura & Huston, 1961
Children imitate a models aggressive behavior in the
presence of the model
Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1961
Children imitate a models aggressive behavior in a new
setting, away from the model
Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963
Will children imitate a film-models aggressive behavior?
Performing the Right Behavior at the Right Time:
Self-Regulation
We learn all kinds of
behaviors by
observing others

Why dont we all
just run around
imitating every
behavior we see?
Recall the Triadic Model of
Reciprocal Determinism
Environmental
Influences
Personal Factors
(beliefs, expectations,
self-perceptions)
Overt
Behavior
Self-Regulation
An important personal
factor is the ability to
self-regulate
Some people are pretty
good at this, some
people arent so good
Self-regulation is
probably domain-
specific (recall the
environmental
influences component
of the triad model)
Can regulate some
things, but not others
Delay of Gratification
Children who are able
to delay gratification
at age 5 are less likely
to become alcoholics
or drug addicts later
in life
Specific to appetitive
rewards

Summary
We acquire, maintain, and modify behaviors
that we see others perform
We decide which behaviors to keep, and
when to use them, by using:
symbolic thought (what are my long term
goals?)
emotion (damn that Bobo doll!!!)
self-regulation (I really want to stab my prof, but
I need an A, so)
Bandura and other Social Learning Theorists
put the person back into personality by
stressing the interplay of personal factors,
environmental factors, and behavior