Social Learning

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Social learning theory

Who was Bandura?

Check out this short video about Bandura, learning and the BOBO doll.   

Social Learning Theory, theorized by Albert Bandura, posits that people learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling. The theory has often been called a bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory, and motivation.


  1. Attention — various factors increase or decrease the amount of attention paid. Includes distinctiveness, affective valence, prevalence, complexity, functional value. One’s characteristics (e.g. sensory capacities, arousal level, perceptual set, past reinforcement) affect attention.
  2. Retention — remembering what you paid attention to. Includes symbolic coding, mental images, cognitive organization, symbolic rehearsal, motor rehearsal
  3. Reproduction — reproducing the image. Including physical capabilities, and self-observation of reproduction.
  4. Motivation — having a good reason to imitate. Includes motives such as past (i.e. traditional behaviorism), promised (imagined incentives) and vicarious (seeing and recalling the reinforced model)


Bandura believed in “reciprocal determinism”, 

The world and a person’s behavior cause each other.  

Behaviorism on the other hand essentially states that one’s environment causes one’s behavior (KEY DIFFERENCE) 

Bandura, who was studying adolescent aggression, found this too simplistic, and so in addition he suggested that behavior causes environment as well.


Later, Bandura soon considered personality as an interaction between three components: 

  1. The environment
  2. behavior
  3. one’s psychological processes (one’s ability to entertain images in minds and language).



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