Social Cognitive Theory 01 Pg. 1Social Cognitive TheoryOf Learning
"Of the m any cues that influence beh avior, at any point in time, none is more com mo n than the a ctions of others.
(Bandura, 1986, p.206)
In the early 196 0’s, when many learning and instruction theories were being developed, Albert Bandura and
his researchers recognized that ma ny overlooked an im por tant asp ect of learning, the ob servation of others.
Fr om this analysis began the social-cognitive theor y.
A.Theories of Im itation
Imitation is an instinct -- Observed actions elicit an instinctive drive to copy those actions.
Imitation is limited by development -- Children imitate actions that fit with existing cognitive
Imitation is conditioned -- Behaviors are imitated and reinforced through shaping. Imitation
becomes a generalized response class.
Imitation is instrumental behavior -- Imitation becomes a secondary drive through repeated
reinforcement of responses m atching those of models. Imitation results in drive reduction.
A.Rotter's Social Learning Theory
The social learning theory of Julian R otter represents an integration of learning and p ersonality
theories (P hares, 19 76 ). According to Rotter, individuals consider the likely conseq uences of their
actions in a given situation and act b ased on their beliefs.
The theory is comprises four major variables:
Behavior potential refers to the probab ility that an individual will act in a certain fashion
relative to alternative behaviors.
Expectancy is the individual's belief concerning the likelihood that a particular reinforcement
will occur as a consequence of a specific behavior.
Reinforcement value refers to how much the individual values a p articular outcome relative to
other potential outcomes.
The psychological situation implies that the context of behavior is important. The w ay in
which the individual views the situation can affect b oth reinforcement value and exp ectancy.
This relationship is symbolized as follows: BP=E & RV
A.Bandura's Theory of Social Learning
Social cognitive learning theory highlights the idea that much of human learning occurs in a social
environment. By observing others, people acq uire knowledge of rules, skills, strategies, beliefs, and
attitudes. Individuals also learn about the usefulness and approp riateness of behaviors by observing
models and the conseq uences of modeled behaviors and they act in accordance with their b eliefs
concerning the expected outcomes of actions.
Social cognitive theory is a direct response to Behaviorism. Bandura began building his theory of
social learning by identifying 3 areas of weakness of Behaviorism:
the limited range of behaviors possib le for research in a laboratory type setting
the fact that thes e theor ies were unable to account for the acquisition of new resp onses to
that is dealt with only one type of learning, i.e., direct learning, where the learner performs a
response and experiences the consequences. (Bandura referred to this type of learning asinsta nta neou s m atch ing .
Bandura referred to indirect learning as delayed matching
learner observes reinforced behavior and later enacts the same type of behavior.
Social Cognitive Theory 01 Pg. 2
Social cognitive theory defines learning as an interna l menta l pro cess tha t ma y or ma y no t be reflected in
immed iate behavioral chan ge
Assumptions / Basic Principles
1. People learn by observing others: Modeling (3 types of modeling).
Generally, cognitive modeling involves modeled demonstrations, together with verbal descriptions of
the model's thoughts and actions.
2. Learning is internal.
Learning is goal-directed behavior.
There are 3 types of reinforcers of behavior s:
direct reinforcement -- Direct reinforcement would be directly experienced by the learner.
vicarious reinforcement -- V icarious reinforcement would be ob served to be consequences of the
behavior of the model.
self reinforcement -- Self reinforcement would be feelings of satisfaction or displeasure for
behavior gauged by personal performance standards.
Self-regulated behavior is essential to the learning process.
Self-regulation of behavior is the process of one using one's own thoughts and actions to achieve a
Self-regulated learners identify goals and adopt and maintain their own strategies for reaching the
Without self-regulation, people would not maintain behavior until it could reinforced.
Self-regulations is critical to understanding Soc. Cog. theory because a lot of human behavior
occurs without imm ediate reinforcement/punishme nt. Often, the consequences for behavior are to
far down the road into the future to effect current behavior.
A) 4 par ts to Self-regulated behavior
Critical to self-regulated behavior because they help to establish a purpos e for one's actions
and provide a means of measuring one's progress.
Once goals have been set, learners monitor thems elves to determine their p rogress. Self-
monitoring behavior can be taught in a variety of ways.
Often used as a means of scaffolding.
Teachers don't necessarily have to be the only one's doing assessment; students can be taught
self-assessment skills. ** Time consuming -- students need to make sure that their goals are
specific and quantitative in nature (ex. running).
We tend to feel good about the things we accomplish and regretful or guilty about the things
we don't accomplish. The point is that as individual's become more self-regulated, they learn
to reinforce and punish themselves. Often, self-r einforcers and self-p unishers are one's
feelings -- the most powerful form of self-reinforcement is the feeling of accomplishment after
successfully setting and meeting challenging goals.
Learning involves the interaction of several factors, such as behavior, environment, storing
information in memory and per sonal factors (i.e., beliefs & expectations: e.g., relevant to ability).
Such interactive effects are considered "mutually influencing" -- usually referred to as reciprocal
Social Cognitive Theory 01 Pg. 3causation / determ ina tion.
For Bandura, it is through the observations of models that an
individual's per cep tions and actions influence their cognitive develop ment.
Ex.: You get a low score on an algeb ra test (environme ntal factor) which influences your b elief (
personal factor) about your ability to do algebra. Your belief, in turn, influences your
behavior -- in this case, it's your study habits -- and your behavior influences the environment
-- in this case, you got a tutor to help you study.
Indirect -vs- Direct Effects of Reinforcement & Punishment on Learning
Enactive learning involves learning from the conseq uences of one's actions. B ehaviors that result
in successful consequences are r etained; those that lead to failures are refined or discarded.
B. Vicarious Experiences
Occurs when people observe the consequences of another person's actions and adjust their own
behavior accordingly. Vicarious sources accelerate learning over what would be possible if peop le
had to perform every behavior for learning to occur. Vicarious sources also save peop le from
personally experiencing negative consequences.
Two types: V icarious reinforcement & Vicarious Punishment.
For behaviorist, punishment & reinforcement are direct causes of behavior; however, for social
cognitive theorists, reinforcement and punishment cause individuals to form expectations about
consequences that are likely to result from various behaviors.
Ex.: If you study well and do well on a test, you expect to do well on a second test with a similar
amount of study. If you see someone else being reinforced for a given behavior, you
expect to reinforced for a similar behavior.
Reinforcement and punishment only changes behavior when learners know what
behavior s are being reinforced or punishme nt.
Implication for teachers: a) specifiy what behaviors will be reinforced so that students
can adapt their behavior accordingly, & b) learners need feedback so that they can know
what behaviors have resulted in desirable consequences.
How we p rocess information when we exp erience the reinforcement/punishment directly vs
indirectly can be q uite different.
Intensity of reinforcement and punishment from an emotional perspective.
E. Choice of Behavior
We can choose how to respond to a given situation based on the consequences we see others
Non-occurrence of Expected Consequences
When we see the conseq uences experienced by others, we tend to expect similar conseq uences if
we behave in a similar manner. However, similar behaviors don't always result in similar
consequences. Ex.: Leigh Scott Case Study = different outcomes for similar behaviors.
Social Cognitive Theory 01 Pg. 4
Modeling is a general term that refers to behavioral, cognitive, and affective changes deriving from obser ving
one or more models.
The characteristics of mo dels
is an impor tant factor in determ ining the degree to which the attention is p aid to
the model by the learner .
The resp onse of the learner to the modeling behavior is largely determined by three sets of factors:
1.) the particular attrib utes of the model, such as relevance and cr edibility for the observer;
2.) the prestige of the model, and
3.) the satisfaction already present in the situation w here the behavior is b eing modeled.
A second determinant of the models success is the nature of the ob server. Those with a p oor sense of self
esteem and those w ho lack self confidence are m ore p rone to adop t the behavior of models. A. Ty pes of M odels
Direct Mode ling
Simply attemp ting to imitate the model's behavior.
Live models include family members, friends, work associates and others with whom the
individual has direct contact.
n Imitating behaviors displayed by characters in books, plays, movies, or television. .
The symbolic model is a pictorial representation of behavior.
Developing behaviors by combining portions of observed acts.
Ex.: A child uses a chair to get up and open the cupboard door after seeing her brother use a chair to get
a book from a shelf and seeing her mother open the cupboard door.B. Functions of Modeling
-- Social promp ts create motivational inducements for observers to model the
actions ("going along with the crowd"). Models can strengthen existing behaviors. (ex.: standing
ovation -- we already know the behavior, but when we see others do it, we tend to follow suit). We can
also learn behaviors that we didn't know prior to observing models.
-- Inhibitions are self-imposed restrictions on one's own behaviors. Modeling
can either strengthen or weaken one's given inhibition(s). Unlike facillitating an existing behavior,
inhibitions involve socially unaccep table behaviors, such as b reaking classroom rules or gener al laws.
(ex.: Los Angeles riots and looting; Pedestrians at a red light are more likely to obey or disregard the
red light if they see others doing the same; Students are less likely to speak without permission if they
see peers reprimanded for doing so.). Modeled behaviors create expectations in observers that similar
consequences will occur should they model the actions.
--A key mechanism in observational learning is the information conveyed by
models to observers of ways to produce new b ehaviors. Subprocesses include attention, retention,
production, and motivation.C. Cognitive Skill Learning
Ob servational learning expands the range and rate of learning. Two especially germane app lications of
modeling to instruction are cognitive modeling
and self-instructional training
incorporates modeled explanation and demonstration with verbalization of the
model's thoughts and reasons for performing given actions.
seeks to teach students how to regulate their own activities during
Five step p rocedure:
Faded over t self-guidance,
Social Cognitive Theory 01 Pg. 5D. Motor Skill Learning
According to social cognitive theory the learning of motor skills involves constructing a mental model that
provides the conceptual representation of the skill for response p roduction and serves as the standard for
correcting responses subsequent to receiving feedback. The conceptual representation is formed by
transforming observed sequences of behaviors into visual and symbolic codes to be cognitively rehearsed.
An important point in the social cognitive theory is that the learners behavior is guided by cognitive processes rather
than formed or shap ed by reinforced practice. Four component parts are responsible for the learning and
performance acquisition. These are:
4 Basic E lements Involved in Lear ning from Models
Ob server characteristics
perceptual /cognitive capacities
Ob server characteristics
Motor Reproduction (physically capable):
Ob server characteristics
sub skill mastery
selection & organization of responses
Motivation — To S oc. Cog. Theorists, reinforcers motivate behavior.:
Ob server characteristics
Social Cognitive Theory 01 Pg. 6
The Self-regulatory System and Self-Efficacy
In Bandura's later w ork he introduces two othe r asp ects to his Social Learning Theory. These are his
work on the self-regulatory system and self-efficacy. In the area of self-regulatory system/self-
evaluative behaviors he said that this system is based upon cognitive subprocesses that:
These processes are based upon the standards for one's behavior and capabilities of cognitive structures
that provide referents for behavior and its outcom es. These standards are b ased upon one's:
The third area of Dr. Bandura's work deals with the area of ones per cep tion of one's self-efficacy in
dealing with a situation. Perceived self-efficacy is the belief that one can execute behavior to produce
outcom e. It influences behavior in three ways:
choice of behavior
quality of individual performance
Dr. Bandura's definition of aptitude, itself, illustrates the impor tance he places on self-efficacy in his learning theory.
He says that the concept of ab ility is not a fixed attribute in ou r repertoire, rather it is a genera tive capab ility which
cogn itive, motivationa l, emotional and b ehavioral skills must be org anized an d effectively orchestrated to serve
diverse purposes Self-efficacy
is the conviction that one can successfully accomplish the behavior required to produce a particular
outcome. It is a judgment about how well one can organize and implement effective strategies in a situation that
may include novel and often stressful elements.
Self-efficacy-activated processes are b ased on four areas:
selective People with weak belief in their self-efficacy
shy away from difficult tasks (personal threats)
have low aspirations and weak commitment to the goals they choose
maintain a self diagnostic focus (rather than how to perform)
dwell on personal deficiencies, obstacles & adverse outcomes
attribute failures to deficient capabilities
slacken their efforts or give up quickly in face of difficulty
slow to recover their sense of efficacy after failures or setbacks
prone to stress & dep ression
Social Cognitive Theory 01 Pg. 7People with strong belief in their efficacy
set challenging goals & sustain strong commitments to their goals
approach difficult tasks as challenges rather than as threats
maintain a task diagnostic focus
attribute failures to insufficient effort
heighten effort in face of difficulties
quickly recover their sense of efficacy after failure or setback
display low vulnerability to stress & depre ssion
Per ceived self-efficacy is visible in schools as it sets up a cue in the intellectual process:
student beliefs in their ow n self-efficacy
individual teachers perceived self-efficacy in their ability to perform effectively with their difficult students
staffs perceived efficacy that their schools can perform
The sources of perceived self-efficacy are:
performance / accomplishments
The 3 types of cognitive motivators around which theories have b een b uilt:
retrospective reasoning about perceived causes of success & failure
Self-efficacy’s Affect on Behavior
Choice of behavior
Effort & persistence
Learning & AchievementSugg ested Rea dings:
Bandura, A. (1 97 7). Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice- Hall, p .22 .
Bigge, Morris L. and S. Samuel Shermis (1992 ). Learning Theories For Teachers. Harper-Collins Pub. Inc.
p.1 60 .
Deci, Edwar d L., Luc G. Pelletier, Richard M. Ryan and Robert J. Vallerand (19 91) . Motivation and Education:
The Self-D eterm ination P ersp ective. E ducational Psychologist, 2 6(3& 4), pp 32 5-34 6.
Gredler, M argaret E. (19 92 ). Theory Into Practice. Learning and Instruction, p.3 07 .
Klein, Stephen B. (19 91 ). Pr inciples and Applications. Learning. M cGraw-Hill, Inc. p.20 4.
Tudge, Jonathan R. H. and Paul A. Winterhoff (1993) . Vygotsky, Piaget and Bandura: Perspectives on the
Relations Between the S ocial W orld and Cognitive D evelop ment. Human D evelop ment, 36, pp 61 -81.
10. Rafferty, Cathleen (1993 Summer) Processional Self-Efficacy: Preparing Teachers for Professional
Develop ment Schools. Contempor ary Educ ation, 64 (4) p.2 26 .
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