Evaluation of Social Learning Theory

Topics: Observational learning, Albert Bandura, Social learning theory Pages: 5 (1627 words) Published: September 30, 2012
Evaluation of Social learning theory
In this essay, I will try to evaluate Social learning theory as originated by Albert Bandura. I am going to use three pieces of evidence, in a form of case studies, which have been done previously to support or contradict Bandura’s theory. I will demonstrate my knowledge of these studies throughout their analysis, trying to highlight their strengths and limitations.

Albert Bandura, a 20th century American pszchologist, proposed a very important and probably the most influential theory of development and learning. He believed that: “Most human behaviour is learned observationally through modelling: from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviours are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.” A.Bandura His theory consists of three core concepts, where observational learning is the most crucial one. There are three basic types of observational learning, which have to be conducted during the process. The first one in which the desired behaviour is demonstrated the second is when verbal instructions are given to the participant, and in the last the desired behaviour occurs in any form of media, where the real or fictional character demonstrates the behaviour. He also stated four conditions that have to be met in order to be able to learn through observation. These are attention, retention, reproduction and motivation. The first evidence supporting Social learning theory is the well known experiment, conducted by Bandura himself, Ross and Ross in (1961) known as Bobo Doll experiment. In brief, the aim of the experiment was to see whether children would learn aggressive behaviour by observing others. There were three main conditions: two experimental (the aggressive and non aggressive) and one controlled. Aggressive condition was exposed to a video clip, where they saw a role model playing aggressively with an inflated (Bobo) doll (putting the doll on its side, striking it with a mallet, tossing it in the air, kicking it around the room etc.) Each sequence was repeated three times. In comparison to non aggressive condition, where they also saw the clip, where this time the role model played calmly with the toys for the whole time, and completely ignored the Bobo doll. At the second stage of the experiment, children were brought to a room with attractive toys, but weren’t allowed to play with them. This step was designed to induce frustration in all participants (aggressive, non aggressive and controlled conditions). After that, they were taken into a room with a Bobo doll and what occurred was that children in aggressive condition were more likely to imitate the aggression towards the doll than either of the other conditions. Therefore it seems that the experiment supports the theory that children learn through observation. But before declaring something as reliable, we have to consider its strengths and weaknesses. Probably the biggest strength of this study is that as it is was a lab experiment, which had a high level of internal validity because results were measured by a 5-point rating scale, which was applicable to all participants equally. Inter-rater reliability of observers was provided by two observers rating independently and then comparing their results. This study had tight controls which allow us to have a great level of reliability, therefore the experiment can be replicated according to standardized procedures and instructions. This is a good example of strong support easily turning into a weakness. Because the study was conducted in an artificial environment, and because the model and child participants didn’t know each other, it is very unlike normal modelling which usually takes place within a family, therefore it lacks ecological validity. This also develops another limitation, which is the potential demand characteristics; as the child participants were put into an artificial environment and they were under...
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