What is Social Learning Theory? Explained with Examples

Observing and imitating the behavior of others, according to social learning theory, is how people acquire social behavior. The social learning theory was established by psychologist Albert Bandura as an alternative to the earlier work of B.F. Skinner, a fellow psychologist well-known for his contribution to behaviorism. While behavioral psychology focuses on how the environment and reinforcement affect behavior, Bandura posited that people might acquire behavior by seeing others do things they don’t want them to. In this article, we walked through the social learning theory definition and social learning theory examples.

What is Social Learning Theory?

A series of experiments was carried out by Albert Bandura in the years 1961 and 1963 to see if social behaviors (violence) could be accumulated through observation and imitative learning. Children were asked to observe a model punch an inflatable doll as part of a study to see if they would imitate such action. The Bobo doll tests were the collective name given to these investigations.

In 1977, Bandura created the social learning theory hypothesis on the basis of his findings from the Bobo doll experiments. A new version of this theory was developed in 1986: the social cognitive theory asserts that learning takes place in a social context with constant and shared interactions between a person’s immediate surroundings and behavior itself.

In order to assess whether a new behavior is acquired, four mediational processes must be present.

  • The extent to which we are aware of the conduct is referred to as attention. To be mimicked, an action must first catch our attention. According to our everyday observations, attentiveness is critical in determining whether a behavior affects imitation.
  • Whether or not we recall something after it happens. If we can’t recall the behavior, we can’t do it. As a result, even if a behavior is observed, the observer will not engage in it unless memory is generated. Because social learning takes time, it’s important to keep people interested in what you’re teaching them.
  • Being able to reproduce a behavior. Replicability is the ability to perform the same actions that we see in others. It has an impact on whether or not we try out the behavior. Physical capacities constrain us even when we try to replicate another person’s behavior.
  • Willingness to imitate the other person’s actions. Vicarious reinforcement is the term used to describe this mediation process. Instead of learning through firsthand experience, this method teaches by observing the effects of one’s actions on other people.
  • Additionally, the observer will examine how rewards and punishments are applied once a behavior is observed. A person will be more likely to emulate another person’s behavior if they believe that the benefits outweigh the costs (punishment). However, if the observer does not value the vicarious reinforcement highly enough, they will not imitate the behavior.

Principles of Social Learning Theory Hypotheses

One of the foundational assumptions of social learning theory is that Here’s a reference from somewhere else:

  • People pick up skills through paying attention and observing what’s going on around them Students can pick up new skills and knowledge just by paying attention to what a model does.
  • Indirect effects of reinforcement and punishment on behavior and learning Based on how present actions are reinforced or punished, people create expectations about future response’s potential repercussions.
  • Our actions are influenced by meditative processes. Whether or not a behavior is learned can be explained by cognitive variables.
  • Change isn’t always the result of learning something new. Having learned anything does not guarantee that a person will change their ways.


Examples of the Theory of Social Learning

A common example of social learning theory in real life is children’s imitating their parents, friends, famous personalities, and even fictional characters on television. If a youngster sees a positive consequence for their actions, they will eventually engage in that activity.

When it comes to social media, there are countless examples of individuals impersonating one another, whether it’s through acting out a movie scene or dancing like they’re in a music video. This type of irrational behavior is usually caused by a person’s need to be accepted or loved by others.

Employees who are new to the company may try to emulate the behavior of their more experienced colleagues in order to fit in. It’s also possible that they’re trying to emulate the behavior of their colleagues in order to gain favor with their boss.

The goal of fitting in or getting attention for kids can be achieved through following the examples of peers, celebrities, and mentors. In addition to emulating good habits, children are also taught bad habits.

Implementing the Social Learning Theory to Online Learning

Because online learning is offered to a single individual rather than a community, many of you believe that it goes against the grain of social learning theory. Online learning can benefit from a social learning technique because of advancements in technology.

Now, let’s take a look at Bandura’s Theory’s major ideas and how they relate to online learning.

If you want to learn something new, how do you go about doing it online? YouTube is a popular destination for those of us who prefer to learn by doing. According to the social learning theory, people learn the majority of what they know by watching other people do things. This can take any shape, from verbally describing a task to physically demonstrating a behavior.

What are the Implications for Online Education?
Video and audio can be used to recreate this experience for online students. This feature is supported by virtual classroom technology, which enables real-time instructor presentation and collaboration.

It’s possible to show recordings of people doing a certain job task and have the students answer questions regarding what worked and didn’t. Additionally, you might incorporate a video clip that discusses a specific topic you want the student to be exposed to. After watching the video, you can have a discussion with the students about it. It’s possible for them to learn this on their own or with the help of the performers in the movie clip.

Recall and Setting

If you’re like most people, you know that humans learn by internalizing material in our minds and then recalling it when the need comes. Emotional connections and context help information stick in the brain. When it comes to remembering new information, social learning is really important. When people get involved in a critical debate, they draw on their own life experiences to help them understand it better.

What are the Indications for Online Learning?

People have many possibilities to interact and discuss while they learn online. Today’s LMSs (Learning Management Systems) have forums built in that make it easier for students and instructors to communicate, or they can even create a social media page for the course and share it with other students there. People will talk about your e-learning if they like it (which will make sure the information is stored for a longer time).

Making online learning more remembered through effective storytelling is great since stories allow us to experience information instead of merely consuming it. Create several opportunities for people to share and collaborate on their knowledge.

Incentives and Motivations

Students’ ability to learn is directly tied to their ability to remain motivated. According to the social learning theory, motivation arises when we are rewarded for our actions, and when we are in the same scenario again, we will either discard or follow our previous conduct. Students who receive additional credit for being punctual in class are more likely to continue being punctual themselves.
What are the Implications for Online Education?
Gamifying online learning is a great approach to motivate students by offering incentives. As a result, students are more involved and communicative.

The Way you’re Feeling

According to the Social Learning Theory, behavior and learning are influenced by both intrinsic (or self-rewarding) reinforcement and external (or positive) reinforcement. Having accomplished something gives you a sense of satisfaction and raises your level of confidence.

What are the Indications for Online Education?

It is possible to give intrinsic reinforcement for online learning by implementing learning checks and developing difficult activities. Additionally, you can offer learners printable personalized course completion certificates or any other type of acknowledgment or incentive.

So, social learning improves a person’s chances of success. Group chats, threaded conversations, and discussion groups are examples of social aspects that can be found in online learning platforms.

What is the Importance of Social Learning Theory?

A combination of computer-based learning and traditional classroom methods has now largely superseded classroom instruction in both business and education. The move to e-learning was primarily motivated by a desire to reduce expenses, free up staff time, and simplify administrative tasks. However, if an organization decides to relocate, social learning, a crucial consideration, may be disregarded.

Brick-and-mortar campuses, for example, are a university’s greatest asset. These are places where people congregate who have common interests. Because e-Learning is typically done at one’s own desk or at one’s own home, the opportunity for social connection is diminished.

Bandura’s social learning theory not only influenced other psychologists, but it also had significant educational ramifications. Teachers and parents alike now understand the need of setting an example of acceptable behavior for their children. Social learning theory also informs other instructional practices in the classroom, like encouraging students and helping them feel competent.

Bandura opined that learning everything you know from personal experience would make life extremely difficult and possibly dangerous. Getting new information and abilities comes from paying attention to what other people are doing. Understanding how social learning theory works will help you appreciate the important role observation plays in molding what we know and what we do.

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