A great many scientists, thinkers and psychologist have sought the answer to how the human brain learns. Technology has brought us ever closer to discovering the human brain, but while this is the instrument by which we learn, it is the social nature of the human environment, which also has an impact on what and how we learn. Two theories that have been historically significant in the search to understand the learning process, are those of Operant conditioning (Behaviourism) by B.F. Skinner (1938), based on the work of Thorndike (1905) in a theory known as the ‘law of effect’ and in contrast the social cognitive theory of Observational Learning developed by Albert Bandura (1977).
The behaviorist theory of Operant conditioning was based on Thorndike’s work, but Skinner took this further and introduced the term reinforcement into the theory. Skinner was the first to use the term “Operant conditioning’ which he used to refer to the changing of a behaviour by using reinforcement after the desired response. He was able to identify three types of responses which he called ‘operant’ that can follow a particular behaviour, He has sorted theses into 3 areas of Neutral operants: responses that do not increase or decrease the chance of the behavior being repeated. Reinforces are responses that increase the chance of a behavior being repeated, these can be either positive or negative. Punishers are responses that decrease the likelihood of a behavior being repeated.
The theory of Albert Bandura says that behaviour is learnt from the environment as the child observes the environment and peolple around around them and copy the behaviour that they are exposed to. Banduras theory also says that the will copy behaviours despite the fact that thy may not be appropriate for gender or age. His theory states that the child will copy people that they perceive are similar to the view of themselves. He also