Social learning theory


Social learning theory as an explanation of aggression -

Observational learning - 
Children learn through watching other people. When we try to teach a child to eat with a spoon, complete a jigsaw or use a pen, we often demonstrate the skill first. The child remembers and copies this action and performs it itself. This is called observational learning (observational learning = the process of learning from watching others).

Modelling is the act of copying an observed behaviour. If a parent frequently reads books, the child may model this behaviour by picking up books, opening them and turning pages (modelling = observing, identifying with and copying the behaviour of a role model), (role model = a person who is looked up to and copied).

Observational learning can take place without modelling; we don't copy everything we see, but we still learn it. It involves four steps:

  • Attention - paying attention to the person being observed.
  • Memory - being able to remember what we have seen until it is needed.
  • Reproduction - being able to act out what we see - this is modelling.
  • Motivation - the incentive to copy what has been seen.

Role models - 
The person we observe and learn from is called a role model. This can be anyone we watch, such as a sporting hero, celebrity, teacher or a parent. E.g. David Beckham is a role model for most children who like football. They model him by wearing 'his' football shirt and copying his football tricks.

Identification - 
We are more likely to model a person who is popular, attractive, a similar age, or the same gender as us. We identify with role models who are like us or that we look up to. Identification is when we adopt the behaviours, attitudes and beliefs of a role model. We become like them and believe that we can do what they do (identification = a feeling of similarity with a role…


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