What does this mean?

Social Learning Theory can be used both to promote appropriate behaviours and explain inappropriate behaviours. Several Studies have been performed using Social Learning Theory. View several of these studies on the research links page. Studies vary from those that promote healthy eating and role models to studies that explain agression, impulsiveness and self control.

The Social learnintg theory is widely used in research or studies regarding behaviour modification and agression. Applying Bandura's pattern of Attention, Retention, Reproduction and Motivation psychologists can study how certian observations lead to aggressive reactions. The 'Bo-Bo Doll' Studies are an example of how viewing an agressive behavour can affect the actions of the viewer. The 'punishment' occuring after the inappropriate behaviour was varied between groups, and in this way, the motivation for the children to reproduce the behaviour was also manipulated. (See Links for more details on this study). 

The ideas of modelling and imitation are commonly used in training sessions and seminars for schooling, and work. We are usually required to observe a behaviour which is considered correct for the given scenario which the employer, professor, teacher, or administrator would like us to replicate. It has been shown that often individuals will learn better by observation than by explanation alone, hence the need for labs, hands on experience and technical training colleges. Employers will often use various training sessions to encourage the behaviours shown in the sessions and discourage the employees from picking up less than desireable behaviours shown by their co-workers. This also explains the importance of taking corrective action against those employees that do not follow policy, so other employees see their behaviour as having less desireable outcomes than the behaviour modelled at the training seminars. 

This is a prominent way of teaching a young child proper actions for given situations as well. When a parent wants to teach a child correct or acceptable behaviours they will commonly show the child several times the behaviour with hopes that the child replicates it. Children are most likely to replicate a behaviour they value, or a behaviour modelled by someone they admire. On the reverse side, when a child acts out, the parent will quite often show the child the proper way and continue to remind the child not to replicate the inappropriate behaviour. This is usually how bad habits of adults are passed on to children without the adult being aware. The child is observing and modelling behaviours; imitating the adults or older children.  


This Theory is also applied by advertisers. We will often watch a television show, commercial or see a bilboard ad, magazine ad, or infomercial showing a certain individual using the product with a high value outcome. This is telling us as the consumer that if we were to model the behaviour of the spokesperson, we too will get an equal positive outcome - which is usually not the case. Using specific body wash does not always lead to getting the girl as advertisers portray. These advertisers take advantage of the fact that consumers are attracted to outcomes of actions and not necessarily the product itself. Advertisers focus on trying to sell us a positive outcome, even if the product does not or will not bring about that outcome - or even a similar outcome.

The effects of sexual behaviour and violence on television are often held accountable for behaviour of children, teenagers, and young adults. It is true that these individuals are viewing behaviour that appears to have a positive outcome. Often the person who wins the fight is seen as the alpha male, he gets the girls, the friends and gets ahead. Often the individual being picked on or standing aside is seen as the geek, and the geek never gets the girl. This would suggest to a younger individual that promising outcomes come from aggressive behaviour - when you win the fight. For these behaviours to be replicated the individual must be paying attention to what he/she is viewing, something must draw the viewer in and make them think. This is commonly why the agessor in the series, or episode is cast as someone who is attractive, and seen as a 'good guy' or 'hero' (ex. saving the damsel in distress). The individual must also retain the information, you must remember it to replicate it. But  where the observations of television behaviour ibecome replicated or not, lies in motivation. Does the individual viewer sees the outcome as positive, and what previous schooling has the individual recieved about aggressive behaviour. Maybe this person was in a fight and expelled from school, therefore, their previous knowledge would suggest to them that fighting does not lead to positive outcomes and this individual wouldlack the necessary motivation to replicate the behaviour. This relates back to the idea that all individuals have their own situational, or motivational understandings. We are not simply beings without thought, left to imitate everything we see, this is where Bandura's idea of cognition enters the picture. Humans have the ability to analyze the data and images they view, then interpret that information to gain an adequate understanding of the differences between television and real life.