The idea behind social learning theory is that individuals can pick up knowledge from one another by watching, copying, and modeling. Albert Bandura, a psychologist, combined behaviorist and cognitive learning theories to develop his theory. The goal of social learning theory is to investigate how human behavior is influenced by socialization.
The social learning theory’s past
Bandura was a psychologist who researched behavior in people. His Bobo Doll research is his most well-known accomplishment. In these studies, Bandura used children to observe adults modeling both good and bad conduct toward a clown-shaped toy balloon. The adults were occasionally combative and severely beaten the doll. Read also: The Top 5 Tricks and Advice for the Samsung Galaxy S24
The kids were handed hammers and asked to play with the doll after watching this video. While most kids who saw good, non-aggressive conduct reacted less violently, most kids who saw hostile behavior toward the doll also acted violently toward it. Bandura came to the conclusion that the kids picked up their social skills through observation.
Bandura’s theory was based on this study. The social learning theory connects with other behaviorist theories such nature vs nurture, symbolic interaction, situated learning, reinforcement learning, and social development. It is still widely employed in social psychology today.
Social learning theory’s phases
Social learning theory is predicated on the idea that people shape their own actions based on the behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those that they see.
Four fundamental learning criteria are among the main ideas behind this method. According to social learning theory, there are four distinct stages of social learning: motivation, initiation and motor behavior, retention and memory, and attention.
- Pay heed. In order for an observer to be affected by a lesson or experience, they must be actively taking in their environment. Positive feelings or a strong sense of identification with the model are beneficial to the spectator. Furthermore, it is beneficial if the observer is deeply involved in the experience they are witnessing or has strong emotions related to it. Functional value, distinctiveness, and complexity are some of the elements that may influence attention.
- Memory and Retention. Any learning experience must be retained by the observer in order for it to have any lasting effect. It is also beneficial for the observer to review the event after they are able to recollect it, either by mentally going over it again or by physically playing it out. A toddler might, for instance, watch an adult educate them not to toss objects, and then they might be seen teaching one of their stuffed animals the same lesson.
- Initiation as Well as Motor Skills. The observer must be able to genuinely reenact the lesson in order to apply the lesson learnt. Before a behavior may be modeled, it is needed to learn the relevant abilities. A person has acquired the required skills when they can successfully pay attention to patterned behavior and mimic it or show it.
- Inspiration. An observer must be motivated to complete a task even if they have concentrated on it, retained all the information, and acquired the requisite abilities. Motivation can come from a variety of sources, such as internal drive to learn or better, observations that comparable behavior is rewarded, and external incentives like bribes and awards. Additional elements that influence motivation are individual traits, prior experiences, incentives that have been promised, rewards, and penalties.
The social learning theory modeling process, which establishes the success or failure of the impact, is based on these ideas. Social learning theory uses behavioral models that can be vocally, physically, or even symbolically demonstrated.
Social learning theory applications
There are various applications of social learning theory outside of psychology.
Human resources (HR): By utilizing social learning theory methodologies, HR practitioners can enhance employee retention. For instance, giving mistakes weight, rewarding good behavior, and correcting errors as they occur before they become regular routines.
Training and educational development: The idea of learning by doing and social learning theory are comparable in training. The ideal way for new hires to learn their role is by copying or reiterating the actions of their supervisor or another person in the same position.
Marketing: To reach target audiences and promote product purchases, advertisements and marketing materials might use the social learning theory. For instance, a business may imply that purchasing their service will result in the acquisition of a particular desired trait or lifestyle.
Machine learning: Social learning theory can be used to train algorithms for machine learning, which is useful for robotics and cognitive computing.
Social learning theory is frequently used by law enforcement and criminal justice professionals to identify or explain learnt unlawful behavior. It can also be used to study how violence in the media affects people’s behavior. Criminal justice experts occasionally identify behavioral patterns in sizable groups and develop teaching materials and initiatives to help intervene before a crime is likely to be committed.
For example, merely posting signs urging people to lock up their cars or take their belongings with them can significantly lower the frequency of thefts in a remote public parking lot that has a high theft rate. In other cases, providing young adults with good coping mechanisms for loss or grief can keep them from misbehaving and causing problems for themselves down the road.
The social learning theory and personality development
The formation of a collection of patterns pertaining to a person’s habitual behavior, temperament, and character is known as personality development. According to the social learning theory, a significant portion of a person’s personality traits may originate from watching others in their family or community.
Both an individual’s environment and genetics may influence their temperament. This covers their perspective on the world, how they approach it, and how they engage with other people. An individual is more inclined to emulate undesirable temperamental tendencies if they are exposed to them frequently. The environment, which is sometimes referred to as “nurture,” greatly influences a child’s personality. A person who is loved and cared for from birth forward is more likely to grow up to be trustworthy and upbeat than a neglected or abused youngster.
The preschool years are among the best for social learning since a kid will likely witness and experience a wide range of actions that may influence their behavior as adults. During this developmental stage, play, imagination, and cooperation are all crucial components. Children may find it difficult to fit into groups as they get older if they are not taught how to do so at a young age.
Children learn how to behave in more regulated group settings during their school years. They also get the ability to apply self-control, obey rules, and have faith in favorable results through observation and learning. The extent to which a person’s upbringing in a society that places a high importance on family and nationality determines how connected they feel to their community. Other social skills that kids could pick up include:
- activity level
- regularity of sleep and appetite
- sensory threshold
Measurement of personality and social learning hypothesis
The theory of social learning also addresses personality theory and assessment. The four primary theories of personality that have been formed are social-cognitive, humanistic, trait, and psychoanalytic. Under the general category of socio-cognitive theory, social learning theory explains how an individual’s expectations about the world and the people they interact with, as well as their observations and evaluations of other people’s behavior and surroundings, all contribute to the formation of their personality.
Social psychology, which studies the actions and personality characteristics of people within a civilization or society, is closely related to social learning theory.
Understanding a person’s self-concept, social cognition, attribution theory, social influence, group traditions, prejudice, discrimination, interpersonal interactions, attitudes, and hostility are all fundamental to the social learning theory. Increased social behavior observations and exchanges, along with external experiences such as reading, watching, and film, can help someone refine these skills.
Family and social learning theory
Family psychopathology is frequently directly influenced by social learning theory. If someone witnesses their immediate family members engaging in pathological behaviors, they could accept them as normal and even mimic the behaviors in the future, even if they don’t recall seeing them.
Conversely, families who exhibit a high degree of positive attributes are likely to have children who share and appreciate those same traits.
Social learning therapy
Psychotherapy occasionally makes use of social learning theory. A methodology known as social learning therapy combines the fundamentals of therapeutic treatment with the ideas of social learning theory.
Many disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, bulimia, substance addiction, anorexia, conduct disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, phobias, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, can be treated by social learning therapists. Seeing individuals behave in ways that a patient finds difficult is a key component of social learning treatment, as social learning theory is all about picking up behaviors by watching other people.
A model demonstrates the actions that a therapist wishes to teach their patient in social learning therapy. Verbal instruction from the therapist or model facilitates the observer’s understanding of the desired behavior. Social learning therapists believe that a patient’s environment, actions, personality traits, and patterns all have an equal impact on their behavior.
Examining a patient’s symbolic social influences is another aspect of social learning therapy. Books, plays, poems, music, the internet, movies, and television can all have a significant influence on a person’s behavior, emotions, and thoughts.
The four stages of social learning theory are applied more practically in social learning therapy sessions. The four stages of therapy consist of:
- The therapist instructs the observer to pay close attention to a model’s actions.
- Memory and retention: Using a variety of inquiries, exercises, and reinforcements, the therapist assists the observer in committing their experiences and observations to memory.
- Motor skills and initiation: This entails building the muscle memory necessary for the observer to replicate what they have learnt later on when they are by themselves. Through practice drills, brainstorming sessions, and role acting, a therapist can assist their patient in developing these abilities. A recovering alcoholic is one example of someone who would need to practice how to respond in different situations where they could feel under pressure to drink.
- Motivation: By getting to know a patient over time, a therapist may work closely with them to set out the best strategies to keep them on track.
While there are many different outcomes that social learning therapy can be used to achieve, some common ones include decreasing aggression, boosting family unity, decreasing conflicts, promoting healthy relationships or healthy coping mechanisms to deal with change, fostering empathy, or improving problem-solving abilities. Social learning therapy sessions are also divided into phases: pre-treatment, active treatment, generalization, and follow-up. The therapist checks in with the patient to ensure that the lessons acquired during treatment are being applied and that they do not require any further assistance. Different facets of social learning are the subject of social learning therapy sessions. Willpower, encouragement to overcome bad habits, family, objectives, dialogue, self-control, and reinforcement of positive conduct are a few examples of these.
Social learning therapy is regarded as one of the most successful forms of therapy. Individuals undergoing this type of therapy report increased ease and self-control at work, home, and school, and they may generally default to more positive actions. In addition, they report having more ability to solve problems, stronger relationships with friends, family, and communities, and less daily conflicts.
Social learning theory examples
Seeing these traits in others might help someone acquire a variety of traits, such as kindness or politeness, honesty and diligence, or concerns and fears. The social learning theory can be applied in the classroom to aid pupils in recalling crucial knowledge. Another way to help the pupils remember what they’ve learned is to have them watch a skit or repeat specific phrases. An additional illustration would be someone choosing to go after a career that they have seen a TV character represent.
A deliberate implementation of the social learning theory could involve showcasing an employee who goes above and beyond to ensure the success of a project. Other employees become more productive as a result, whether they would consciously or unconsciously value that kind of praise as well.
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