Bandura is very well known for his observational learning theory and his given theory is considered one of the most significant theories of learning. Albert Bandura has introduced several new ideas in the traditional system of learning to make it effective and more relevant. This paper discusses observational learning theory given by Albert Bandura and several related aspects of the subject matter
Observational learning and models
Albert Bandura suggests that children learn the behavior by observing other people. Bandura introduced the ‘BoBo Doll’ method to prove his argument. In this method, some kids were said to observe adults who were playing with the doll violently. Bandura was proved right when the kids started behaving with the dolls in the same way as they had earlier observed adults. Albert Bandura calls the process of learning as modeling and suggests different observation learning models as
i. Live model or any individual who actually acts or teaches
ii. Verbal model or descriptions of certain behavior
iii. Symbolic model that includes characters demonstrating behavior through books, television or through different other mediums.
All the above mentioned models are affected by some processes like (a) Attention (b) Retention (c) Reproduction and (d) Motivation.
Role of reinforcement in Bandura’s theory:
When a child follows other’s behavior and starts acts like them, people respond to him with either reinforcement or punishment. If his behavior is good or as per model’s behavior, he gets praise else he gets punishments. If a child is seen following a good character and people praised him, his behavior is reinforced. There are two types of reinforcement process external or internal and also it can be with positive or negative results. External reinforcement is something when a kid expects the approval of his acts from others and the process of being happy after getting the approval is internal reinforcement. Bandura suggests that reinforcement motivates a child and causes certain changes in his behavior.
Bandura’s theory is considered very significant in child rearing; people who believe in his theory should keep a vigil on the children while they watch television programs. Bandura says that television is a symbolic model that affects behavior of a child and if child watches anything that is not appropriate and starts following the same, the situation becomes complex because in that case, the process of reinforcement is not applied and punishing the child may create several complexities in his behavior. If we leave children unattended, they may watch any program which they should not watch. Such program may affect their behavior in a negative manner.
Bandura suggests maximum care while punishing the children. He suggests that punishment should not be suppressing and should not exceed its limit in any case. Bandura says that suppressing punishment usually causes undesirable results in the behavior of the children. He adds further that using punishment may increase aggression in the behavior of children instead of improving them. He suggests that since punishment is usually a violent act, it may encourage children to be violent. Bandura suggests that when we punish the children, they develop an attitude of taking revenge and this makes them violent.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Chance, P. (2008). Learning and Behavior: Active Learning Edition. Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning.