November 26, 2012
Dale Ironson, Ph.D.
Learning Approach to Personality Theories
Small children imitate their parents or older siblings by dressing up in their clothing, wearing shoes that are far too big, putting on make-up, or fake shaving with items that are not sharp. This behavior can be characterized by Bandura’s social learning theory, that people, not only children, learn behaviors by observing those around them. Bandura discussed that outside reinforcement was not the only behavioral shaping element in learning new things; internal rewards, such as a sense of pride, were just as effective at shaping new behaviors (Cherry, 2012).
Practical applications of social learning theory are used in the world, on a daily basis. Television, movie, music, and video-game rating systems utilize the ideas behind the theory by having guidelines for displays of behaviors, which are or are not acceptable to specific age groups. These rating help parents determine whether or not the content of each item is appropriate for their child. Another practical use of the social learning theory is scaffolding. This concept is mostly used in mathematics and basically demonstrates the fact that future knowledge builds on previously learned knowledge. The demonstration of formulas and learning those formulas is necessary to move further through the math world ("Wikipedia.org", 2011).
Social learning theory has limitations as well as strengths. One of the limitations is that the theory is loosely defined. Also, poor role modeling leads to poor behaviors developed by those observing the behaviors. It has been argued by several other theorists that behavior is not learned and that it is instead reactionary or response driven and based in emotions (Flamand, 1999-2012). Another downfall to social learning theory is that Bandura focuses on self-efficacy as a strategy for behavioral change. If someone has low self-esteem their faith in their own ability to improve their own behaviors can be limited, which can limit the effectiveness of this approach (Feldman, 2010).
Behavior can be measured in multiple methods. Psychological assessments are standards-based assessments, that when scored, are compared to collected norms, to determine the level of required psychological assistance for individuals. These tests are only valid if the specific test measures what it is looking to measure (Feldman, 2010). Self-assessments are used for determining identity awareness. These tests are helpful in identifying personality traits. A series of questions are asked, repeatedly and in different formats, to get an honest response. They offer opportunities for individuals to rate their own skills, values, reactions, responses,