Social Cognitive Theories

Topics: Locus of control, Social learning theory, Educational psychology Pages: 5 (1237 words) Published: September 15, 2013

Social Cognitive views have been influenced by the humanist idea of uniqueness of human beings, that human beings are decision makers, planners and evaluators of behavior.

Key Concepts:

Social cognitive learning theorists emphasize the importance of both the influences of other people’s behavior and of a person’s own expectancies on learning, and also that observational learning, modeling can lead to the formation of patterns of personality. Thought and behavior are closely interlined with the situation the person is in

Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory:


Albert Bandura a modern theorist helped reshape the theoretical landscape of behaviorism. Bandura believes that three factors influence one another in determint of behavior: the environment, the behavior itself and personal or cognitive factors that the person brings into situation from earlier experience.

Key Terms:

1. Cognitive Processes and Reciprocal Determinism
2. Observational Learning
3. Self Regulation
4. Self Efficacy

Cognitive Processes and Reciprocal Determinism:
Bandura and like-minded theorists call their modified brand of behaviorism social learning theory or social cognitive theory.

Bandura (1982-1986) agrees with the fundamental thrust of behaviorism in that he believes that personality is largely shaped through learning. However, he contends that conditioning is not a mechanical process in which people are passive participants. Instead, he maintains that “people are self-organizing, proactive, self-reflecting and self-regulating, not just reactive organisms shaped and shepherded by external events”.

Bandura advocates a position called reciprocal determinism. According to this notion, the environment does determine behavior (as skinner would argue). However, behavior also determines the environment (in other words, people can act to alter their environment). Moreover, personal factors (cognitive structures such as beliefs and expectancies) determine and are determined by both behavior and the environment. Thus, reciprocal determinism is the idea that internal mental events, external environmental events, and over behavior all influence one another. According to Bandura, humans are neither masters of their own destiny nor hapless victims buffered about by the environment. Instead, the truth lies somewhere between these two extremes.





Observational Learning:
Bandura’s foremost theoretical contribution has been his description of observational learning. Observational learning occurs when an organism’s responding is influenced by the observation of others, who are called models. According to Bandura, both classical and operant conditioning can occur vicariously when one person observes another’s conditioning. For example, watching your sister get burned by a bounced check upon selling her old stereo could strengthen your tendency to be suspicious of others. Although your sister would be the one actually experiencing the negative consequences, they might also influence you – through observational learning.

Bandura maintains that people’s characteristic patterns of behavior are shaped by the models that they are exposed to. He isn’t referring to the fashion models who dominate the mass media – although they do qualify. In observational learning, a model is a person whose behavior is observed by another. At one time or another, everyone serve as a model for others.

As social learning theory has been refined, it has become apparent that some models are more influential than others. Both children and adults tend to imitate people they like or respect more than people they don’t. People are also especially prone to imitate the behavior of people whom they consider attractive or powerful.

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