Albert Bandura

Can you think of someone you look up to? Your mom, a teacher, a best friend, maybe even a celebrity? Now can you think of anything you do that emulates them? If you think about it long enough, chances are you'll find something. Albert Bandura would explain this using his social learning theory, suggesting that you learn these behaviors through observation and imitation. Let's explore more about Albert Bandura and his theories.

Albert Bandura Albert Bandura

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Table of contents
    • First, what is Albert Bandura's biography?
    • Then, let's discuss Albert Bandura's social learning theory.
    • What is the significance of the Albert Bandura Bobo doll experiment?
    • Next, what is Albert Bandura's self-efficacy theory?
    • Finally, what more can we say about Albert Bandura's contribution to psychology?

    Albert Bandura: Biography

    On December 4th, 1926, Albert Bandura was born in a small town in Mundare, Canada, to his Polish father and Ukrainian mother. Bandura was the youngest in the family and had five older siblings.

    His parents were adamant about him spending time outside their small town and encouraged Bandura to pursue learning opportunities in other places during summer vacations.

    His time in so many different cultures taught him early on the impact of social context on development.

    Bandura received his bachelor's degree from the University of British Columbia, graduating in 1949 with the Bologna Award in psychology. He then received his master's degree in psychology in 1951 and a doctorate in clinical psychology in 1952 from the University of Iowa.

    Bandura somewhat stumbled on his interest in psychology. During his undergraduate, he would often carpool with premed or engineering students who had much earlier classes than him.

    Bandura needed a way to fill that time before his classes started; the most interesting class he found was a psychology class. He was hooked ever since.

    Albert Bandura, Color portrait photo of Albert Bandura, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Albert Bandura is the founding father of the social learning theory.

    Bandura met his wife, Virginia Varns, a nursing school instructor, during his time in Iowa. They later had two daughters.

    After graduating, he briefly went to Wichita, Kansas, where he accepted a postdoctoral position. Then in 1953, he started teaching at Stanford University, an opportunity that would later transform his career. Here, Bandura conducted some of his most famous research studies and published his first book with Richard Walters, his very first graduate student, entitled Adolescent Aggression (1959).

    In 1973, Bandura became the president of the APA and, in 1980, received APA's award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions. Bandura remains in Stanford, CA, until his death on July 26th, 2021.

    Albert Bandura: Social Learning Theory

    At the time, most views about learning were centered around trial and error or consequences for one's actions. But during his studies, Bandura thought that social context also profoundly impacted how a person learns. He proposed his social-cognitive perspective on personality.

    Bandura's social-cognitive perspective on personality states that the interaction between a person's traits and their social context influences their behavior.

    In this regard, he believed that it is in our nature to repeat behaviors, and we do so through observational learning and modeling.

    Observational learning: (aka social learning) is a type of learning that occurs by observing others.

    Modeling: the process of observing and imitating another's specific behavior.

    A child who sees his sister burn her fingers on a hot stove learns not to touch it. We learn our native languages and various other specific behaviors by observing and imitating others, a process called modeling.

    Stemming from these ideas, Bandura and his graduate student, Richard Walters, began conducting several studies to understand antisocial aggression in boys. They found that many of the aggressive boys they studied came from a home with parents who displayed hostile attitudes and the boys mimicked these attitudes in their behaviors.Their findings lead to them writing their first book, Adolescent Aggression (1959), and their later book, Aggression: A Social Learning Analysis (1973). This research on observational learning set the foundation for Albert Bandura's social learning theory.

    Albert Bandura's social learning theory states that social behavior is learned by observing and imitating as well as by reward and punishment.

    You've probably linked some of Bandura's theories to classical and operant conditioning principles. Bandura accepted these theories and then built on them further by adding a cognitive element to the theory.

    The behavioral theory suggests that people learn behaviours via stimulus-response associations, and the operant conditioning theory assumes people learn via reinforcement, punishment and rewards.

    Bandura's social learning theory can be applied to many areas of psychology, such as gender development. Psychologists have found that gender develops through observing and imitating gender roles and expectations of society. Children engage in what's called gender typing, the adaptation of traditional male or female roles.

    A child observes that girls like painting their nails and wearing dresses. If the child identifies as female, they begin to imitate these behaviors.

    Processes of Social Learning Theory

    According to Bandura, the behavior is learned via observation through reinforcement or associations, which are mediated through cognitive processes.

    For Bandura's social learning theory to occur, four processes must occur attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

    1. Attention. If you're not paying attention, chances are you won't be able to learn anything. Paying attention is the most basic cognitive requirement of the social learning theory. How well do you think you would do on a quiz if you were crying from a breakup the day your teacher lectured on that topic? Other situations can affect how well a person pays attention.

    For example, we usually pay more attention to something colorful and dramatic or if the model seems attractive or prestigious. We also tend to pay more attention to people who seem more like ourselves.

    2. Retention. You may pay a lot of attention to a model, but if you didn't retain the information you learned, it would be pretty challenging to model the behavior later. Social learning occurs more strongly when a model's behavior is retained through verbal descriptions or mental images. This makes it easier to recall the behavior at a later time.

    3. Reproduction. Once the subject has effectively captured an idea of the modeled behavior, they must put what they've learned into action through reproduction. Keep in mind the individual must have the ability to reproduce the modeled behavior for imitation to occur.

    If you are 5'4'', you can watch someone dunk a basketball all day but still never be able to do it. But if you're 6'2'', then you would be capable of building on your behavior.

    4. Motivation. Finally, many of our behaviors require us to be motivated to do them in the first place. The same is true regarding imitation. Social learning will not occur unless we are motivated to imitate. Bandura says we are motivated by the following:

    1. Vicarious reinforcement.

    2. Promised reinforcement.

    3. Past reinforcement.

    Albert Bandura: Bobo Doll

    The Albert Bandura Bobo Doll experiment can be considered one of the most influential studies in the field of psychology. Bandura continued his studies on aggression by observing the effect of aggressive modeled behavior on children. He hypothesized that we experience vicarious reinforcement or punishment when watching and observing models.

    Vicarious reinforcement is a type of observational learning in which the observer views the consequences of the model's behavior as favorable.

    In his experiment, Bandura had the children in a room with another adult, each playing independently. At some point, the adult gets up and displays aggressive behavior towards a Bobo Doll, such as kicking and screaming for around 10 minutes while the child watches.

    Then, the child is moved to another room full of toys. At some point, the researcher enters the room and removes the most appealing toys stating that they are saving them "for the other children." Finally, the child is moved into the third room with toys, one of which is a Bobo Doll.

    When left alone, the children exposed to the adult model were more likely to lash out at the Bobo Doll than children who were not.

    Albert Bandura's Bobo Doll experiment shows that observational learning can impact antisocial behaviors.

    Albert Bandura, Still images of children in the Bobo Doll experiment, StudySmarterFig. 2 - The Bobo Doll experiment involved observing children's behaviour after witnessing aggressive or non-aggressive models' behaviors towards a doll.

    Albert Bandura: Self-Efficacy

    Albert Bandura believes self-efficacy is central to social modeling in his social cognitive theory.

    Self-efficacy is a person's belief in their own capabilities.

    Bandura thought self-efficacy was the foundation of human motivation. Consider your motivation, for example, in tasks you believe you have the capability in versus tasks you do not believe you are capable of achieving. For many of us, if we don't believe we're capable of something, we're much less likely to attempt it.

    It's important to note that self-efficacy affects our motivation to imitate and can affect several other areas of our lives, such as our productivity and vulnerability to stress.

    In 1997, he published a book detailing his thoughts on self-efficacy entitled, Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. Bandura's theory of self-efface can be applied in several other fields, including athletics, business, education, health, and international affairs.

    Albert Bandura: Contribution to Psychology

    At this point, it's hard to deny Albert Bandura's contribution to psychology. He gave us the social learning theory and the social cognitive perspective. He also gave us the concept of reciprocal determinism.

    Reciprocal determinism: how behavior, environment, and internal personal factors interact and influence one another.

    Robbie's experience on the basketball team (his behaviors) influences his attitudes toward teamwork (internal factor), which affects his responses in other team situations, such as a school project (external factor).

    Here are some ways in which a person and their environment interact:

    1. Each of us chooses different environments. The friends you choose, the music you listen to, and the after-school activities you participate in are all examples of how we choose our environment. But then that environment can influence our personality

    2. Our personalities play a prominent role in shaping how we react to or interpret threats around us. If we believe the world is dangerous, we may be more likely to perceive certain situations as a threat, almost as if we're looking for them.

    3. We create situations in which we react via our personalities. So essentially, how we treat others affects how they treat us.

    Albert Bandura - Key takeaways

    • In 1953, Albert Bandura started teaching at Stanford University, an opportunity that would later transform his career. Here, Bandura conducted some of his most famous research studies and published his first book with Richard Walters, his very first graduate student, entitled Adolescent Aggression (1959).
    • Albert Bandura's social learning theory states that social behavior is learned by observing and imitating as well as by reward and punishment.
    • Bandura continued his studies on aggression by observing the effect of aggressive modeled behavior on children. He hypothesized that we experience vicarious reinforcement or punishment when watching and observing models.
    • Albert Bandura believes self-efficacy is a central part of social modeling in his social cognitive theory. Self-efficacy is a person's belief in their own capabilities.
    • Reciprocal determinism is another of Albert Bandura's contributions to psychology. Reciprocal determinism refers to how behavior, environment, and internal personal factors interact and influence one another.


    References

    1. Fig. 1. Albert Bandura Psychologist (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35957534) by bandura@stanford.edu is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/?ref=openverse)
    2. Fig. 2. Bobo Doll Deneyi (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bobo_Doll_Deneyi.jpg) by Okhanm (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Okhanm&action=edit&redlink=1) is licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/?ref=openverse)
    Frequently Asked Questions about Albert Bandura

    What is the main idea of social learning theory?

    The main idea of Albert Bandura's social learning theory is that social behavior is learned by observing and imitating as well as by reward and punishment.

    What are the 3 key concepts of Albert Bandura?

    Three key concepts of Albert Bandura are:

    • Social learning theory.
    • Self-efficacy theory.
    • Vicarious reinforcement.

    What was Albert Bandura's contribution to psychology?

    The significant Albert Bandura contribution to psychology was his social learning theory. 

    What was Albert Bandura's experiment?

    Albert Bandura's Bobo Doll experiment demonstrated the social learning theory of aggression. 

    What did the bobo doll experiment prove?

    Albert Bandura's Bobo Doll experiment provides evidence that observational learning can impact antisocial behaviors.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Where did Bandura start teaching in 1953? 

    True or False? Bandura's social learning theory can be applied to many areas of psychology, such as gender development.

    True or False? Albert Bandura's Bobo Doll experiment provides evidence that observational learning can impact antisocial behaviors. 

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