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The theory of Social Learning by Bandura


One of the most influential learning theories, the Social Learning Theory (SLT), was created by Albert Bandura. It encompasses concepts of traditional learning theory and the operant conditioning of B.F. Skinner.

However, the theory strongly implies that there are types of learning where indirect reinforcement is not the causal mechanism; rather, the so-called social element can result in the development of new learning among individuals. Social Learning Theory has been useful in explaining how people can learn new things and develop new behaviors by observing other people. It is to assume, therefore, that Social Learning Theory is concerned on observational learning process among people.

What is SLT?

During the first half of the 20th-century, the behavioral school of psychology became a dominant force. The behaviorists proposed that all learning was a result of direct experience with the environment through the processes of association and reinforcement. While Albert’s theory is also rooted in many of the basic concepts of traditional learning theory, he believed that direct reinforcement could not account for all types of learning.

For example, children and adults often exhibit learning for things with which they have no direct experience. Even if you have never kicked a ball in your life, you would probably know how to kick the ball if someone told you to play together. This is because you have seen others perform this action either in person or on television.

While the behavioral theories of learning system suggested that all learning was the result of associations formed by conditioning, reinforcement, and punishment, Bandura’s social learning theory proposed that learning can also occur simply by observing the actions of others.

His theory added a social element, arguing that people can learn new information and behaviors by watching other people. Known as observational learning, this type of learning can be used to explain a wide variety of behaviors, including those that often cannot be accounted for by other learning theories.