Social Learning Theory

Submitted By desirekasasira
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The Social learning theory suggests that learning is a cognitive process that takes place socially and can occur through observation or through direct given instructions even without an individual receiving direct reinforcement. However, observation of behaviour and learning can also occur through observation of others receiving rewards or punishments. This is defined as vicarious reinforcement (Hygge, 1964)
Bandura (1963) initially outline a four stage model that explains how information is observed by the individual, processed and then imitated. These were; Attention (observers must attend to the modelled behaviour), Retention (observers must be able to remember features of the behaviour.), Reproduction (the observer must organize responses in accordance with the model.) Motivation (in order to reproduce the observed behaviour, the observer has to have the motivation and expectation)
Supporting the social learning theory, Bandura carried out an experiment using children below the age 10 years old. He had two conditions, condition 1 had a child in a room with a bobo doll and an adult that played with the doll aggressively and condition 2 had the child in a room also with a bobo doll but the model played nicely with the doll. He found that when the children in both conditions were left in the room alone, they imitated the models behaviour. He concluded that this suggests that the children imitated the models behaviour and so learnt through social learning. However, Bandura's methodology has been criticised that it's a lab experiment and used children. Results therefore can't be generalised to the real world and the use of children does explain adult learning. Do adults also learn via social learning or is this form of learning only for children? Could it be a miss judgement of behaviour (Bandura 1969)?
In addition, Bandura has been criticised for not taking into count some of the models values e.g. feature, sex-gender, ethnicity and social power...etc that could affect whether behaviour is imitated/ learnt. Bandura later carried an experiment on whether gender constancy and power in models is considered as a necessary factor. His findings showed that gender and power did affect behaviour(Bandura, 1854). There are pressures that exist for boys as well as girls and differences in socialization experiences that increase the attractiveness of social power for boys
Phillips supports social learning theory and also supports Bandura's research findings using the bobo doll because he looked at homicides after a