Synopsis: This is a five page APA citation style argumentative essay on the 2012 Presidential election in the United States. There are two sources cited. Social Learning Theory by Albert Bandura will be applied in order to assess the behavioral, cognitive and psychological effects on the media viewing public of the intense discourses between President Obama and Republican Presidential Candidate Governor Mitt Romney. The potential implications of the environment on social learning will be explored.
The presidential election process of 2012 was a memorable event. This was the election event which had the greatest media attention in American history. This essay will address the effects of the Presidential campaign on the behavioral, cognitive and psychological aspect of the viewers. Behaviorism with its focus on empirical methodology, is based upon the variables which may be proven through the scientific method. In the scientific method, one variable is adjusted and the implications on the other variables are assessed. This leads to the validation of the hypothesis that behavior is a causal attribute of the environment. In this essay the agenda setting will be thoroughly observed. The media is a guide which is an element of the environment. In manipulating the behavioral, cognitive and psychological variables, the media in its role as being an element of the environment, directs the public with regards as what to think about (Boeree, 2006).
How the Environment Shapes Social Learning
In the article which is titled: “Romney Repeats His Claim of Hatred in Obama’s Campaign”, President Barack Obama ended a three day stop over in Iowa by making allegations that the Republican Presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney was being less than earnest on his assaults on President Obama’s achievement record during the past four years. Republican Presidential candidate Governor Mitt Romney retorted that President Obama election campaign technique is to foster separations and factions. The presidential election process has become an almost personal confrontation with the characteristics of animosity between factions (Cohen, 2012).
Albert Bandura called the outcome of this confrontation between President Obama and Republican Presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney reciprocal determinism (Boeree, 2006). That is to say, that the environment and an individuals behavior have a retro feeding effect on each other. An individual’s personality is composed of environmental elements, behavioral elements and the elements of an individual’s psychological processes. The elements of the individual’s psychological processes consist of the capacity to visualize imagery and to apply the the element of language. This is where Albert Bandura creates much more effective hypotheses than other behavioral scientists. Albert Bandura is able to theorize upon the primary behavioral, cognitive and psychological characteristics of the human race. These two primary characteristics are that people learn from what they observe and self regulation (Boeree, 2006).
The fierce discourse in the differences of ideology between President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney has been ongoing since the beginning of the election campaign. This discourse has manifested the differences in ideologies of the administration of the federal government’s subsidized medical care program for the elderly. Gov. Romney perceived that President Obama’s re- election campaign has the objective of converting the discourse about the differences in ideology into a partisan confrontation (Cohen, 2012). Republican presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney asserted that “the President seems to be running to hang on to power” (as cited in Cohen, 2012). Gov. Mitt Romney continued in stating that “ I think he’ll do anything in his power to try to get re- elected” (as cited in Cohen, 2012). President Obama stated “I think that they know that their plan is not very popular. You can tell that because they are being pretty dishonest about my plan” (as cited in Cohen, 2012). President Obama followed with his defense by saying Especially, by the way, when it comes to Medicare. This is something I have got to point out here because they are throwing everything at the wall to see if it sticks’ ( as cited in Cohen, 2012).
In this situation, the environment which is the media, is directing what people should think about. Albert Bandura, the father of cognitive movement in behaviorism could have predicted what would be the behavioral, cognitive and psychological implications upon the minds of the public. The study which best represents the modeling effect of the widely televised adversarial posture of president Obama and Republican Presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney would the well known bobo doll studies (Boeree, 2006). in this study, one of Albert Bandura’s female students was filmed while assaulting a bobo doll. The student hit the doll and assaulted the doll by subduing it and hitting it with a construction implement. The student also blared loud aggressive statements at the benign bobo doll. Albert Bandura demonstrated this video presentation to a room full of five year old children. Afterward, the children were released upon the benign bobo doll. The children were also equipped with small hammering implements. The foretold outcome was that the children began to aggressively beat the benign bobo doll. The outcome was that the children modeled their behavior on the behavior of Albert Bandura's female student in the video presentation. The important consideration is that the children modified their natural behavior as a result of what was presented on the video presentation. This may not seem as if it is an extraordinary experiment, however, consider that the children participated in this behavior without an extrinsic motivation. This example in this experiment does not conform to normal behavioral hypotheses. In this example we can demonstrate how the environment shapes behavior. Albert Bandura called the the Social Learning Theory (Boeree, 2006).
Albert Bandura postulated that if an individual is going to go through the Social Learning process, they must first be paying attention. Any mental state which is less than optimal will have a detrimental effect on the learning process. If an item is colorful, such as the benign bobo doll had been during the experiment, the attention span of the individual will be optimal (Boeree, 2006). In the Presidential election campaign, most of the elements, including the article titled: “Romney Repeats His Claim of Hatred in the Obama Campaign”, the color schemes were bright red and bright blue (Cohen, 2012). What these colors achieve is to gain the optimum attention of the viewer (Boeree, 2006).
Albert Bandura also postulated that if an individual is going to retain what the individual’s attention has been given to, it must be done in the form of visual images and language elements. When this is achieved, it is easy to remember what is observed (Boeree, 2006). The third Social Learning Theory element that Albert Bandura postulated upon is the reproductive effect. After the election, many of the viewers were dazed and the predictable reaction of such a fierce Presidential campaign on the behavioral, cognitive and psychological aspects of the minds of the viewers is to imitate what has been observed. As a point of information, by observing and learning from what is in the environment, an individual viewer become more adept at the observed behavior than the original actor (Boeree, 2006).
The fourth postulate which Albert Bandura formulated on the Social Learning Theory was that there are behavioral motives which are exercised in order to imitate what the environment teaches the individual. The behavioral motives may be the following:
Promised and anticipated positive and negative reinforcement.
Vicarious reinforcement (Boeree, 2006).
The fifth and final postulate of Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory is the important characteristic of self regulating individual behavior through the following elements:
Positive and negative self responses (Boeree, 2006).
The presidential election campaign was a fierce environmental element upon the behavioral, cognitive and psychological aspects of the individuals in the environment. The individuals form the environment and the environment forms the individuals. As individuals, one must reflect upon the experiment of the father of the cognitive movement in behaviorism, Albert Bandura. After this electoral process the individuals which form the environment must strive to self control our inherent modeling instincts, which is to imitate what is observed (Boeree, 2006). This may be achieved by creating environmental awareness, the need for individual introspection and prudence. In this manner, as an environment, we may avoid the modeling tendency which was demonstrated in Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory experiment called the bobo doll studies (Boeree, 2006).
Boeree, C. (2006). Albert Bandura 1925- Present. Retrieved from
Cohen, T. (2012, August 15). Romney repeats his claim of hatred in Obama’s campaign.
America’s Choice 2012 Election Center CNN . Retrieved from