Social learning theory states that most individuals especially children learn through imitating and observing other people`s ideas, attitudes, behaviours and reactions towards different events and environment. Therefore, it is very important for parents and guardians to lead a decent life. Otherwise, children would acquire the poor manners and behaviours from their parents. Human behaviour is developed through interaction between behavioural, cognitive and environmental influences as illustrated through social learning theory. In addition, human behaviour is developed observationally through modelling. The conditions necessary for effective modelling include attention, retention, reproduction and motivation. The learner develops ideas on how various behaviours are executed and later use those ideas as a guide to make decisions and actions. Social learning theory appreciates the fact that learning would be very difficult if each and every individual had to rely on the impacts of their own deeds to choose what to do. Social learning theory is not only applied in explaining and comprehending different behaviours, characters, perspectives, ideas, attitudes and reactions but also applied in understanding disorders and aggression in the context of behaviour modification.
There are numerous examples of social learning situations. The most common example is the case of children imitating their parents and guardians behaviours, ideas and even attitudes though modelling and observation. Another example of social learning situation is the case of television commercial advertisements. Viewers are often motivated through advertisements to consume different goods and services. The level of motivation depends of whether using the advertised goods and services will make the viewers great and popular or whether the viewer will win the admiration of striking individuals. For instance, advertisements such as drinks associated with great personalities and celebrities motivate people to consume them. Therefore, television modelling plays a great role in influencing styles of conduct, emotional responses and attitudes of both adults and children. Children can be transformed into bullies through violent programmes on television. Television programs such as wrestling and use of violence in films as a solution when a character is in trouble only inculcates violence in viewers especially children. This is as a result of social learning through which the child pays maximum attention to whatever he observes. He or she retains the ideas and is motivated to act in a similar manner in future. Moreover, televisions can enhance violence and undesirable actions through publicizing acts like suicides, terrorist kidnapping and airline hijacking.
Another example of social learning situation is the case of children observing behaviours of their parents and guardians and using them as a basis of making decisions and acting. A child brought up by parents who are violent and fight a lot will obviously lead a violent life in future. Such a child can become a bully or even a thief in some instances. Therefore, children can end up living as criminals as a result of what they see. On the other hand, children raised by parents who shun violence and leave peacefully and respectfully are most likely to live a responsible life in future. These are the effects of social learning through which children retain what they see and are motivated to behave in a certain way.
All in all, social learning appreciates the essence of ensuring that people especially children observe desirable behaviours and attitudes. This is because people learn from the behaviours, responses and attitudes of other people. They are motivated to act depending on what they observe, model from people`s behaviour and the environment at large.
Akers, Ronald L. Social Learning and Social Structure: A General Theory of Crime and Deviance. Illustrated. Piscataway, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2009.
Bandura, Albert . Social learning theory. Illustrated. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2004.