Albert Bandura and His Work

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Albert Bandura’s social learning theory stressed the importance of observational learning, imitation and modeling. “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,” Bandura explained (Bandura, 1977). His theory integrates a continuous interaction between behaviors, cognitions and the environment. Bandura was particularly interested in ways that people influence the behavior, thoughts, and learning of others. Social learning theory has been applied extensively to the understanding of aggression (Bandura, 1973) and psychological disorders, particularly in the context of behavior modification (Bandura, 1969). It is also the theoretical foundation for the technique of behavior modeling which is widely used in training programs. His early work focused on modeling, learning through the observation of others. Bandura’s most famous experiment was the 1961 Bobo doll study. In the experiment, he made a film in which a woman was shown beating up a Bobo doll and shouting aggressive words. Afterwards, the children were allowed to play in a room that held a Bobo doll. The children immediately began to beat the doll, imitating the actions and words of the woman in the film. The study was significant because it departed from the behaviorism’s insistence that all behavior is directed by reinforcement or rewards. The children received no encouragement or incentives to beat up the doll. They were simply imitating the behavior they had observed. In developing his social learning theory, Bandura identified for component processes that influence an observer when learning a modeled behavior (Bandura, 1977). These components include attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation. Attention is the first component of observational learning. In order for an individual to learn anything, he or she must pay attention to the features of the modeled behavior. The...
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