Social Learning Theory ( Bandura)

Siti Shahida Kamel
Dr. Balakrishnan Muniandy
“ Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention
hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their
own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most
human behavior is learned observationally through
modelling : 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”
Born December 4, 1925 in Mundare, Alberta, Canada as the youngest
child, and only son in a family of eight. Bandura is Ukrainian and Polish
After finishing high school, worked in the Yukon to protect the Alaska
Highway against sinking. Later credited his work in the northern tundra
as the origin of his interest in human psychopathology.
Received his bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of
British Columbia in 1949. Went on the University of Iowa, where he
received his Ph.D in 1952. It was there that he came under the influence
of the behaviorist tradition and learning theory.
While at Iowa, he met Virginia Vans, as an instructor in the nursing
school. They married and later had two daughters. After graduating, he
took a postdoctoral position at the Wichita Guidance Centre in Kansas.
In 1953, he started teaching at Stanford University. While there, he
collaborated with his first graduate student, Richard Walters, resulting in
their first book, Adolescent Aggression, in 1959.
Bandura was president of the APA in 1973, and received the APA’s awards
for Distinguished Scientific Contributions in 1980. He continues his work
at Stanford to this day.
Bandura’s Social Learning Theory posits that people
learn from one another, via observation, imitation,
and modelling. The theory has often been called a
bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning
theories because it encompasses attention,
memory, and motivation.
 His theory added a social element, arguing that
people can learn new information and behaviors by
watching other people.
Behaviorism, with its emphasis on experimental
methods, focuses on variables we can observe,
measure, and manipulate. In the experimental
method, the standard procedure is to manipulate
one variable, then measure its effects on another.
All this boils down to a theory of personality that
says that one’s environment causes one behavior.
 Bandura found this a bit too simplistic for the
phenomena he was observing, aggression on
adolescents, so decided to add a little something
to the formula : He suggested that environmental
causes behavior, true, but behavior causes
environmental as well. He labelled this concept
reciprocal determinism : The world and a person’s
behavior cause each other.
1) People can learn through observational
Observational Learning : In 1961 Bandura conducted a controversial
experiment known as the Bobo doll experiment ( egg-shape ballon
creature with a weight in the bottom that makes it bob back up when
you knock him down) to study patterns of behavior associated with
A film of a women beating up a Bobo doll shown to groups of
kindergarten. Later when they were let out to play, in the playroom of
course a brand new Bobo doll. As a result, the kids imitated the young
lady in the film.
2) Mental states are important to learning
External, environmental reinforcement was not the only factor to
influence learning and behavior. Intrinsic reinforcement as a form of
internal reward, such as pride, satisfaction and a sense of
accomplishment emphasis on internal thoughts and cognitions helps
connect learning theories to cognitive development theories ( social
cognitive theory ).
3) Learning does not necessarily lead to a change in behavior
While behaviorist believed that learning led to a permanent change in
behavior, observational learning demonstrates that people can learn new
information without demonstrating new behavior.
1 ) Attention :
If you’re going to learn anything, you have to
pay attention. If, for example, you are sleepy,
you will learn less well.
2) Retention :
Remembering what you paid attention to.
When so stored, you can later bring up the
image or description and reproduce it with your
own behavior.
3) Reproduction :
Reproducing the image.
4) Motivation :
Having a good reason to imitate.
Example :
Television commercials – Commercial suggest that using a particular hair
shampoo will make us popular and win the admiration of attractive people.
Depending upon the component processes involved ( such as attention or
motivation ), we may model the behavior shown in the commercial and buy
the product being advertised.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self Efficacy : The exercise of control. New York : W.H.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social Foundations of Thought and Action.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ : Prentice-Hall.
Bandura, A. (1973). Aggression: A Social Learning Analysis. Englewood
Cliffs, NJ : Prentice Hall.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. New York : General Learning
Bandura, A. (1969). Principles of Behavior Modification. New York : Holt,
Rinehart & Winston.

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