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Social Learning Theory

 

Explanations > Theories > Social Learning Theory

Description | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

Although we learn by our own trial and error, we also perform much learning by watching other people. It is, after all, safer to let others make the mistakes. When the behavior makes sense, we go through it in our minds then try it for ourselves.

When we succeed, we become more confident (self-efficacy). As we interact with our environment, it becomes a two-way process: as we change it, it changes us (reciprocal determinism). 

Learning is thus a combination of watching, thinking and trying.

We learn most from people with whom we identify. When younger this is parents. Later it is peers. Attractive and famous people also are effective, as do those in authority.

Learning has a an 'thrill' or 'aha' aspect, which reduces as we become competent. Thus, when we succeed, we raise the bar of targeted performance. Also, when we fail, we set our sights lower.

Example

Advertisements are prime examples of Social Learning Theory. We watch them, then copy them.

So what?

Using it

Model the behaviors you want them to adopt. Show how they can be successful. Encourage them to copy you. 

Defending

Think before you copy others, including considering what they have to gain from you doing this. 

See also

Informational Social Influence

References

Bandura (1969, 1971, 1986), Miller and Dollard (1941)

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