Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (Part I)


In the social learning system new patterns of behavior can be acquired through direct experience or by observing the behavior of others.

Modelling phenomena are governed by four interrelated sub-processes:

  • attentional processes: a person should recognize the essential features of one’s behavior (…) association preferences play a major role in determining observational experiences (…) within groups some members are to command greater attention that others
  • retension processes: a person is influenced by observation if he/she has a memory of the model he/she is observing (…) long-term retention of activities also play a major role (…) there are two representational systems on OL -an imaginal and a verbal one. During exposure modelling stimuli produce relatively enduring retrievable images of modelled sequences of behavior (…) verbal coding of the visual information accounts for the notable speed of OL and long term retention (…) observers who code modeled activities into words, images etc learn and retain the behavior better than those who simply observe (…) rehearsal serves also as an aid (…) people who mentally rehearse or actually perform modeled patterns are less likely to forget them.
  • motoric reproduction processes: where symbolic representations guide overt actions (…) to achieve behavioral reproduction a learner must put together a given set of responses according t the modeled patterns (…) the amount of OL depends on whether he/she has acquired the component skills (sub skills also exist) (…) performers cannot see the responses they are making (swimming) they depend on onlookers (…) it is exceedingly difficult to guide actions that are not easily observed.
  • reinforcement and motivational processes: actions depend on positive incentives which affect the level of OL by controlling what people attend to.

Provision of models will not automatically create similar patterns of behavior to others.



Albert Bandura, 1971, Social Learning Theory, New York: General Learning Press

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