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Critic on Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory

Critic on Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory By: Genevie-An Ortega Suico Albert Bandura is the leading proponent of the Social Learning Theory . This theory focuses on the importance of observational learning, imitation and modeling. According to Bandura (1977), learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do.

Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for actions. There are three basic social learning concepts in Bandura’s theory. First, is the idea that people can learn through observation or the observational learning. This was demonstrated in his study the “bobo doll”. Results showed that children learn and imitate behaviors they have observed in other people.

He then identified three basic models of observational learning: A live model, which involves an actual individual demonstrating or acting out a behavior. A verbal instructional model which involves descriptions and explanations of a behavior. And, a symbolic models which involves real ad fictional characters displaying behaviors in books, films, television programs or online media. Next, is the idea that mental states are important to learning or the intrinsic reinforcement. Here, Bandura emphasized that the environmental reinforcement was not the only factor to influence learning and behavior.

He described that intrinsic reinforcement as a form of internal reward, such as pride, satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment which he later claimed as the approach of social learning theory. Lastly, Bandura pointed out that learning does not necessarily lead to behavioral change because observational learning showed that an individual is capable to learn new information without demonstrating new behaviors. According to Bandura (2001) cognitive factors partly determine which environment events will be observed, what meaning will be conferred on them, whether they leave any lasting effects, what emotional impact and motivating ower they will have, and how the information they convey will be organized for future use. Moreover, the social learning theory has a modeling processes which requires a learner to have its full attention on a certain information or subject. With enough attention the learner will then have greater retention of the information, thus, pushing the learner to reproduce or execute a certain behavior. And, to make the observational learning effective one must be motivated to imitate the behavior that has been showed to him.

Thus, the social learning theory has been sometimes called a bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory and motivation. The Overview The social learning theory of Bandura emphasized the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Most human behaviors are learned observationally through modeling. By observing others, one forms an idea of new behavior in terms of reciprocal interaction between cognitive behavioral and environmental influences.

One of the principles underlying social learning theory is that people are more likely to treasure a modeled behavior if they think it will merit and produce outcomes they prefer. It also exhibits ideas that everyday situations are in fact the basis for observational learning. In connection, media plays a vital role in shaping our opinion and behavior or attitude towards a certain learned information (Steel, 1995). It is because all of us are treating mass media as a platform where we can excerpt useful information.

Humans don’t just respond to their environment, they interpret them. For the younger generation what they see on TV and internet and heard over the radio is a must have information that they tend to observe a certain behavior keenly or listen to the model’s words and probably copy it after-wards. Television is just one of the most influential media for behavioral change. Today most teenager’s fashion statements are being copied from the styles of a modern Korean, which are very far from the styles of the 1990s.

It is because most TV programs now are showing koreanovelas. Even when you are inside the mall most teenagers are wearing Korean inspired make-up and clothes, and in taking pictures most of them poses like a Korean too. On the other hand, there is also harm in watching TV. Television programs sometimes contains violent actions that are somehow dangerous to its viewers. That is why some shows are being marked as parental guidance since television companies cannot actually control the sets of audience watching their programs at a certain period.

Some studies shows that more and more children are becoming aggressive during playtime and this can be accounted to their habits of watching TV, just like the “bobo doll” study of Bandura. Although this is not applicable in general for not all violent and aggressive forms of behaviors are being copied by its audience, since it takes a lot of motivation for an individual to apply a certain learned behavior. Bandura even emphasized that reinforcement doesn’t affect the learning of novel responses, but it does determine whether or not observationally acquired behaviors will be put into use.

Another example would be the use of words as an expression. Where, most children learn to use a word as their expression because they’ve heard it many times from television, radio or even from their elders. Here, expressions are somewhat words used to express a feeling or thoughts. While some of those words are actually considered as “bad words” yet children are innocent of it, since they don’t know its meaning. Hence, it simply demonstrates how a live model can strongly influence an innocent mind but not necessarily to change a behavior.

Thus, behaviors can be learned, at least partly, through modeling. Although an individual’s attitude and behaviors are somehow product of genetics and environmental influences, yet, the social learning theory of Bandura have explained that human beings may adopt new behaviors by way of observing what others are doing. Thus, the social learning theory is helpful in explaining further how a certain media or even an individual influences another though not necessarily change an individual’s outlook but at least explaining the root cause of a certain behavior.

References: Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. New York. General Learning Press. Bandura, A. (2001). The Psi Cafe: Albert Bandura, 2001. Retrieved: March 25, 2005 from the world wide web: http://herkules. oulu. fi/isbn9514272463/html/x533. html Steel, J. R. et. ,al. (1995). Adolescent room culture: Studying Media in the context of everyday life. Retrieved December 18, 2004 from the world wide web: http:natcom. org/research/Doc%20hours/Jane%20Brown. doc

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