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Social Learning Theory

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Social Learning Theory

The Social Learning Theory states that states social behaviour is acquired fundamentally by observing and imitating the actions of others. This theory involves attention, memory and motivation within the human mind. Hence, we may say that it spans both cognitive and behavioral frameworks. Isom (1998) reported that the Social Learning Theory is most pertinent in criminology. Grusec (1992) and Boeree (2006) stated that there is a mutual interaction between individual, behavior and environmental influences. This interrelationship is labeled as Reciprocal Determinism (Grusec & Boeree). The Social Learning Theory of Albert Bandura emphasizes the importance of observational learning or modeling the behaviors, emotions and actions of other people (University of South Alabama, n.d.).

According to Bandura's theory of observational learning, four components are involved in this learning process. The four components are attention, retention, motor reproduction and reinforcement (Isom, 1998 & Grusec, 1992, as cited in Bandura, 1969, 1977b, 1986). These processes are involved when the observer is exposed to a modeled behavior (Isom). Firstly, the observer focuses on people around them (which are referred as models) and imitate them by observing and modeling their behaviors (McLeod, 2011). Grusec reported that the observer must pay attention to two types of events, which is live or symbolic. Two factors which affect attention are the characteristic or degree of attractiveness of the model and also the condition during viewing (Boeree & Grusec). When a model is more attractive in terms of physical appearance or appears to be more competent, people are more likely to perceive and attend to the significant features of the model's behavior (Isom). It is also reported that there is a higher probability that an observer will imitate people who are similar to itself or of the same gender (McLeod). Secondly, one must be able to retain a material that has been attended to (Boeree & Grusec). This stage is known as retention (Boeree & Grusec). We store what we have observed in the form of mental imagery and verbal descriptions to retrieve information before we reproduce the modeled behavior (Boeree). In this case, human memory plays a vital role in the cognitive process to help us code and retrieve information (Isom). The next process in observational learning is motor reproduction. The observer must learn to imitate and possess the physical capabilities of the model in order to be able to reproduce the model's behavior (Isom). Grusec stated that simple actions are more easily to be reproduced than complex actions, and the result produced is more successful. Lastly, the final process governing observational learning is reinforcement or motivation. During this process, the observer is expected to be rewarded for modeling other's behavior. People tend to be motivated easily once there are sufficient incentives or positive reinforcements (Grusec).

According to Grusec (1992), Bandura found that the mechanism for social learning is in self-regulation. Self-regulation is a process whereby we have the ability to control ourselves, particularly in the context of human behavior. Bandura believed that people do not change themselves like the weather, easily influenced within a short period (Grusec). Instead, human are able to "take control" in their behavior by having judgmental self-reactions before taking actions (Grusec). For example, one will receive positive self-responses if they did way much better than their standards whereas one will produce negative self-responses if they did not do well (Boeree, 2006). The Bandura's theory of self-efficacy has important social impacts in motivation. Bandura's principle stated that there are higher chances where people will participate

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