Social learning theory: Bandura (1986)
Social learning theory: Bandura (1986)
The extent to which an individual relates to a model or a group of people and feels that they are similar to them. Identification means that the individual is more likely to imitate the model's or the group's behaviour.
The action of using someone or something as a model and copying their behaviour
A form of learning where individuals learn a particular behaviour by observing another individual performign that behaviour.
Social learning theory:
Learning through observing others and imitating their behaviours that are rewarded.
Learning that is not a result of direct reinforcement of behaviour, but through observing someone else being reinforced for that behaviour.
Social learning theory has useful applications
The probability of engaging in criminal behaviour should increase when we are exposed to criminal models, identify with them and develop expectations of positive consequences is greater than the expectation of negative ones.
Research support for the importance of identification
Fox and Bailenson (2009) manipulated identification using computer generated 'virtual' humans. These models looked either similar or dissimilar to the individual participants. Participants who viewed their virtual model exercisingengaged in more exercise in the 24 hours following the experiment than participants who viewed their virtual model merely loitering or a dissimilar model exercising. Greater identification with a model led to more learning.
A problem of causality
Having deviant attitudes prior to exposure to deviant role models could explain delinquency. Siegel and McCormick (2006) suggest that young people who possess deviant attitudes seek out peers with similar attitudes before experiencing their deviant behaviours, so the former may be more influential than the latter.
A problem of complexity
The power of social learning may be over-emphasised as we are exposed to many different influences, for example genetic predispositions and the mass meadia, making it difficult to show that one particualr thing is the main cause of influence.
In order for social learning to take place, someone must perform the behaviour to be learned (modelling). A live model might be a parent, teacher or peer. A symbolic model is someone portrayed in the media.
Modelled behaviour can be observed and later reproduced by the individual through imitation. Key determinants of imitation are (i) the characterisitcs of the model, (ii) the observer's percieved ability to perform the behaviour and (iii) the observed consequences of the behaviour.
Identification is the degree to which an individual feels similar to the model and likely to experience the same consequences of its behaviour. Shutts et al. (2010) suggest that children are more likely to identify with, and preferentially learn from, models who are sdimilar to them.
Bandura and Walters (1963) showed that children who observed a model rewarded for aggressive behaviour were more likely to imitate it than children who had observed a model punished for the same thing. They called this vicarious reinforcement; individuals do not need to experience rewards or punishments directly in order to learn.
The role of mediational processes
Bandura (1986) emphasised internal, mediational processes that take place between a stimulus and response. For social learning to take place, the observer must form mental representations of the modelled behaviour and its probable consequences. They might imitate the learned behaviour provided the expectation of positive consequences is greater than the expectation of negative ones.
Bandura (1986) believed that new patterns of behaviour could be acquired not only through conditioning , but also by observing one's own and others' behaviour and its consequences. He named this social learning theory.