Albert Bandura’s “Social Learning Theory”

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Albert Bandura is a Cognitive psychologist who was responsible for the famous Bobo experiment, Cognitive psychology is based on language memory and how we solve problems. Bandura’s Bobo experiment; in 1961 placed children ranging in ages between 2 and 5. He had the children watch an adult abuse this inflatable clown doll named Bobo. He then placed the children in a room with toys and a puzzle that was unsolvable.When some of the children became frustrated over not being able to solve the puzzle, they took it out on the doll. The children who did not initially participate in the doll abuse were later bribed to do so as part of the experiment. One of the main takeaways from this experiment is that, even if some of the children didn’t actively abuse the doll. They learned the behavior. The biggest point was to prove that people learn from one another. Bandura developed his Social Learning Theory from experiments like this one.

Bandura’s Social Learning theory, seems basic enough but pertains to everyday life. He believed in the behaviorist learning theories of classical conditioning and operant conditioning. “Classical Conditioning is when you take an unconditioned stimulus and an unconditioned response and add a conditioned response, such as the lunch or recess bell. Operant Conditioning is based on rewards and punishments” (Grusec,1992). If you do something wrong you get punished, so you won’t do it again. If you get ice cream for getting a good grade on a test you will be more apt to try and repeat that result. I remember when I was a child, my Dad would say, “monkey see, monkey do.” So if a teacher or parent (model) engages in an activity, the child or student will observe and learn from it negatively or positively. His theory consisted of a four step Modeling Process: attention, retention, reproduction and motivation.

The first step is about the model attaining the attention of the child. The trick as an educator is to get the attention of the student so their mind can process what is being taught.

It gets harder in today’s fast paced world. My grades were better when my instructors held my attention and were personable and charismatic. This can be tricky with children with Attention Deficit Disorder and other stimuli that detract attention from the model.

The second step is retention or remembering what was taught. Sometimes, making concept maps instead of conventional notes helps me retain the information better. You can teach someone anything as long as they can relate to the material. Repetition is paramount in learning and retaining material.

Reproduction comes from practicing what you learned. When I was a little league coach at the first practice and parents meeting, I would ask the player who is your favorite player. Then, I would ask them by the next practice if they would imitate the player’s batting stance. Then we would practice it and this helped me teaching concepts like keeping your elbow up or transferring your weight to the front foot or getting your hips through the ball. I never knew what I was doing as far as a theory. I just thought it was a good tool to get the child interested in baseball. Because, I learned to hit by imitating Willie Stargell and Joe Morgan as a kid. I would imitate Ivan Dejesus and Ozzie Smith playing shortstop. This helped me a lot as a coach. But, using the best players as models was definitely helpful.

Keeping a student motivated is where reward or punishment comes into play. If you want to increase motivation for a behavior you praise him. If you want to diminish or lessen motivation for a response you punish the child. I used to have to make ravioli from scratch and help my grand mother when I was getting punished. I couldn’t stand it, definitely made me think twice about messing up. But, I am a pretty good cook now.

Bandura believed in self efficacy, in learning. This is believing in your ability to learn or finish a task. Self esteem is the general feeling of self worth.

Self-efficacy is the belief in accomplishing a task. An example is I believe I can write a paper on Albert Bandura. If you can believe it, you can achieve it. There are 4 sources to increase Self-efficacy. The most common way to increase self confidence is to practice. If you shoot free throws you will get better at shooting them. The better you get, the more confidence you have in doing that task.

Vicarious Modeling is when you see someone do something and believe you can do it also. If you see Michael Jordan play basketball you believe you can become the next Michael Jordan. You can believe you can hit like Willie Stargell it is all vicarious modeling. It is like a younger sibling learning from watching the older sibling. If the older sibling is a good child then the younger one has a good role model to learn from.

Verbal Persuasion is basically a pep talk where you get motivated. When my daughter was one I was holding her outside a store in Hollywood. A transient man looked me in the eye, as I held my crying infant and said, never give up. He repeated this statement over and over to me. So, even when I am having the worst day, I remember what he said to me. In the Navy, I had a mentor who always encouraged me and made me believe, I was a leader. Even when I was a younger sailor my senior enlisted always gave me pep talks when I felt I was over matched.

If a task makes gives anxiety or you don’t get a good feeling about trying it, you probably won’t succeed in achieving it. Some things people just can’t wrap their minds around. Being terrified to jump or dive off of the high dive can cause some serious negative feelings the first time you attempt it. The trick to achieving these tasks that you, don’t feel comfortable doing is to get yourself to relax, lower your heart rate and anxiety as much as possible before attempting the task. Deep breathing and visualization helps before doing a difficult task. Meditation and other ways of bringing your heart rate down.

The trick to learning is paying attention long enough to learn something and retaining it. Then you practice it until it is a habit or it sticks in your head. Rewards and punishments are designed to support a behavior or reprimand and stop a behavior. Positive reinforcement or negative depending on the situation.

Albert Bandura theories seem so simple looking at them now. This is what is called leading from the front. If you are behind someone, they can’t follow you. Leading by example is the key to modeling. The Bobo experiment kind of reminds me of Simon Says or Copy Cat. The act of mimicry as a learning tool is integral as children are developing. According to Bandura “The agentic perspective distinguishes among three types of environments—imposed, selected, and constructed. The imposed environment acts on individuals whether they like it or not” (Bandura, 2012, p.11). This is all based on a triangle of personal attributes which include self-efficacy, cognition and personality, the

Albert Bandura proved what I have kind of figured out along the way. Being a good role model affects children. They do watch you and learn from you. Being a positive role model does help them socially and mentally. Being a negative role model is detrimental.In educating children you want to teach the right message so you lead from the front. The Bobo experiment teaches that, even if the child isn’t engaging in the activity, they still learned the activity.      

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Albert Bandura's "Social Learning Theory". (2021, Apr 10). Retrieved July 13, 2024 , from

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