Julian B. Rotter 1916 -

Main Ideas: Empirical Law of Effect: "The law of effect states that people are motivated to seek out positive stimulation, or reinforcement, and to avoid unpleasant stimulation. Rotter combined behaviourism and the study of personality, without relying on physiological instincts or drives as a motive force" (http://psych.fullerton.edu/jmearns/rotter.htm). For example, if you know coming home on time on Friday will get you an extended curfew on Saturday, and not coming home on time will lead to you having to clean the bathroom, it is likely that you will come home on time to avoid having to clean and to gain the extra hours of 'freedom' on Saturday without punishment.

Personality is an interaction between the individual and their environment. For example, if you grow up in a home where your parents are always accusing you of inappropriate behaviours you may learn to be very defensive. Even when you leave this environment, it will have a lasting effect on your personality and likely you will learn to become a very defensive person, even when unneccessary.

Personality and behaviour are not concrete and can be changed. Even though you may have learnt to become defensive, a change in environment can weaken the effect that your past environment has had on you, you will not forever be defensive.

People primarily want to maximize reinforcement, not avoid punishment. An example of this is positive ticketing (see links page). Children are being given free passes for being seen wearing helmets while biking and other good behaviours. Children are more likely to want the free passes, then to want to avoid being ticketed for displaying bad behaviours, so they will display good behaviours, not to avoid the ticket, but to get the free passes.

Psychological problems are not illnesses, but occur because of inadequate learning experiences. If a child is taught that screaming at people is the best way to vent anger, this is what they will do - they have not learnt this behaviour to be inappropriate. As an adult they then yell at people when they are angry, people see them as angry or deranged maybe even refer to them as 'psychotic' but, had that person been taught that this is not appropriate, they would not display this behaviour as an adult, and not be seen as 'psychotic'. 

Therapists should increase a person's expectancies for reinforcement, lower minimum goals and suggest meeting high minimum goals in a series of steps. If you want to get a job as an ad executive but you are a senior in high school, you should lower your goals to something more attainable in a short period of time. For example, graduate high school, get accepted into university, pass your university classes, get a university undergraduate degree, etc. These smaller goals appear more attainable, and as the person meets each goal, they will believe in themselves and be able to have a higher rate of expectancy for actions that have led to the attainment of these goals - such as studying.

Key Terms: Expectancy - the probability that a certain behaviour will lead to a specific outcome. A person will exhibit a behaviour that they believe has the highest rate of expectancy; which is the best chance of a positive outcome (reinforcer). For example, If you pass your exams every time you study, read the text and attend class but don't pass your exams when all you do is read the text, the three activities combined will have a higher rate of expectancy (to pass the exams). You will be more likely to exhibit the three behaviours together than the single behaviour if your goal is to pass the exam because this will have proven to have a higher expectancy.

Behaviour Potential - the Likelihood that a certain behaviour will be brought about in a given situation. A person will display the behaviour with the highest behaviour potential for a given situation. For example, cheering has a higher behaviour potential than sobbing when your favorite team wins a sporting event. It is more likely that you will cheer than cry when the team wins, however, crying has a higher behaviour potential if the team loses, and therefore, you will more likely cry if they lose than cheer.

Reinforcement Value - how desirable an outcome is. The outcome with the highest value is likely the outcome that the individual will strive for. For example, if you get $10 for mowing the front lawn, but $30 for mowing the front and back, the outcome of $30 is more desireable - and likely, you will mow the front and back lawn.

Psychological Situation - different situations can be interpreted differently by individuals. Behaviour will be stipulated by the individual's subjectivist view of their environment. For example, if a woman has recently lost a baby, pregnancy may seem like a sad or difficult situation, but to someone who has not, pregnancy may seem like a momentous occassion. Depending on past experience, we interpret sitautions differently. the same woman who lost a baby may see pregnancy as momentous a few years down the road when the memory of the lost child is not as strong - her psychological situation has changed.

Minimum Goals - the lowest level of positive reinforcement. If a person's reinforcement value falls below their minimum goal, they will feel they have failed, if the value is about that of their minimum goal, they will feel they have succeeded. The same outcome can mean success to one person, while meaning failure to another. If you have a goal of losing 5lbs and your brother has a goal of losing 15lbs you will be successful when you have lost 5lbs, but if he loses 5lbs he will still feel as if he has failed.

Locus of Control - a person's general beliefs about the determinants of reinforcement in their individual lives. These beliefs are cross-situational. Internal locus of control is the belief that one's own efforts lead to success or failure, while external locus of control is the belief that luck or chance has occurred. Rotter believed this was not an either/or concept and one's locus of control could change with situations. For example of Internal locus of control, you will feel you have failed math because you did not study enough, from this you will study more because you will believe that studying more will lead to passing the class. A person who has an external locus of control may think they failed because of chance, and they will continue not to study irregardless, assuming next time they will pass.


1954 - published Social Learning and Clinical Psychology
1963 - became the director of the clinical psychology training program at the University of Connecticut
1989 - given the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Contribution award


Freud - prior to Social learning theory, the primary theory was Freud's Psychoanalysis
Adler - Rotter attended Adler's seminars on campus and attended weekly meeting in his home

Wendel Johnson - a semanticist who helped Rotter to focus on the misuse of language in the Psychological field


Negative Mood Regulation research is based in Rotter's Social Learning Theory. See links tab for more information.

Albert Bandura 1925 -

Main Ideas: Interactions between behaviours, the environment, and cognitions are continuous. We are always thinking about our actions, analyzing our behaviours, and taking the environment into consideration before presenting behaviours.

Observational learning is important, without observing, one would have to rely on themselves in order to understand what to do. How did you learn to ride a bike? Brush your teeth? Would you have figured out what to do with these objects if presented with them having no idea what to do with them? (see example 3 on media page).

Learning is not based solely on reinforcement or punishment, as shown in his 1961 study on aggression, better known as the ‘Bobo Doll Study’ See media page and links page for more information. This study showed that children consider their actions before acting. Cognition plays a role in elicited behaviours.

Behaviour cannot be simply be reduced to a stimulus-response cycle. Bandura does not see himself as a behaviourist, though many textbooks refer to him as one, he believes his work to be rooted in Social Cognitivism. See Media page example 1.

Intrinsic reinforcements such as pride, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment are internal rewards. This point suggests that learning theories and cognitive development theories are connected. If you are a painter by hobby you do a good job because it satifies you, not because you are necessarily able to ever sell the piece of artwork.

People can observe new behaviours without learning them. The 'Bobo doll' study showed this, not all children who watched the agressive behaviours retained the information in order to replicate it. You don;t necessarily try to jump a motorbike over a tank of sharks because you watched it on Simpsons - you may have observed this, but it is likely that your knowledge of cartoon shows often showing impossible feats will prevent you from trying this at home (unless of course you have appropriate stunt man training, safety personnel and personal support).

Key Terms:
Vicarious Learning – learning to model the behaviour of someone by observing their behaviour. A small child watches her mother get ready for a night out and sees her putting on dress shoes, jewellery and makeup - the child is watching in awe learning how to look 'pretty' or 'dressed up'. Likely, later the child will be seen putting on make-up or her mother's shoes and jewellery.

Modelling – people can learn new behaviours by watching the behaviours of others. When the child actually does put on the jewellery, make-up and shoes, she is modelling the behaviour of her mother. The mother's behaviour is what is being modelled.

Imitation – the replicating of observed behaviours. The child in the above example by modelling the behaviour, is imitating her mother.

Attention – you need to pay attention to learn, if you are not paying attention, you cannot observe. If a group of children is watching Spiderman, likely those who are not interested in Spiderman will be talking, playing with toys, colouring, etc. These children will not be paying full attention to the behaviours emitted in Spiderman.

Reproduction - the ability to reproduce exact observed behaviours. Later when the children are playing and they are shooting webs from their wrists they are reproducing the behaviour of spiderman (which is basically modelling the behaviour of Spiderman, which is also imitating Spiderman, the previous behaviours are being reproduced from what was retained in the child's memory)

Retention – the ability to store observed information. The children above who watched Spiderman all have the ability to store the information they see, some will choose to remember it because it stands out, others will choose not to retain the information - maybe it did not interest them enough, maybe they prefer Batman.

Self Efficacy – one can behave in certain ways to obtain specific goals. This is the belief that you can chnage your behaviour to obtain goals. Generally this is very prevelant in interviews. When you go for a job interview you present yourself as professional, you speak clearly and professionally, and dress in a way that will get you the job. Everyone can change their behaviour, those that act professionally will likely get the job, those that go in dressed down, mumble, don't shake hands, swear or use foul language, etc, will likely still be unemployed - but had the ability to get the job, had they taken the time to change their behaviour for the situation. Likely those who did not dress and speak appropriately were not interesting in obtaining the 'goal' or getting the job, and those who did dress and speak appropriately did so because they wanted to obtain the job or 'goal'.

Self Regulation - learning to set and achieve meaningful goals. We begin as infants with a goal os being fed, we achieve these goals by crying for our motheras attention. When toddlers learn to talk, they can ask for what they want to eat, sometimes they do not ask, but throw a tantrum, this is an inadequate way of achieve the goal of being fed - this child must learn proper self regulation, such as asking for food, or getting a snack themself. (see self regulation in links for more information).

Motivation – reinforcement and punishment play a role in motivation. You must be motivated in order to reproduce observed learning. A foreigner in Canada has motivation to learn English. They cannot communicate without English (inability to communicate would lead to inability to go to school, get a job, and other 'punishments') being able to speak English is reinforced because she can get a job, an education, make friends etc., which are seen as positive experiences.

1953 – began to teach at Stanford University
1980 – received the APA’s Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions
2004 – received outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology, American Psychological Association

“Bandura’s work is considered part of the cognitive revolution in psychology that began in the late 1960s. His theories have had tremendous impact on personality psychology, cognitive psychology, education, and therapy” (http://psychology.about.com/od/profilesofmajorthinkers/p/bio_bandura.htm).

Walter Mischel 1930 -

Main Ideas: An individual’s behaviour depends on situational cues, and is not expressed consistently. If a person who fears dogs and a person who does not are at a barbeque with no dogs both people will be comfortable, if a dog shows up (the sitautional cue) the person with fears may feel uncomfortable, if the dog, however, is on a leash and kept away from them, the person may be comfortable. The changes around the person depict their level of discomfort. Therefore, their fear is not consistent, and depends on how close the dog comes to them and whether the dog is leashed.

Situations are perceived differently by individuals and it is how the person perceives the situation that determines their behaviour. Some people fear dogs and would see a run in with an unleashed dog as dangerous, some people like dogs and would not feel threatened in this situation. The same person who fears dogs may see a situation with a person who hit a dog as th eperson may be protecting themselves. A dog lover would likely first think the person was abusing the dog.

Each individual has their own if-then behaviour; like a personal signature. This is the reason why all behaviours are not consistent among individuals and across situations. The person above has an if-then behaviour of - if a dog is off a leash, then I will be afraid. The dog lover has their own if then behaviour. If the dog is off a leash, then I will pet it.

The marshmallow test - see links page.

People can forego instant gratification and wait for a larger but delayed reward. Some of the children in the marshmallow test did not eat the single marshmallow infornt of them because they were told if they waited and did not eat it, they could have two instead of one. There was a delay before they could have two, but if they were willing to wait, they got double the 'reward'.


1956 – 1958 taught at the University of Colorado
1958 – 1962 taught at Harvard University
1962 – 1983 taught at Stanford University
1983 – employed as the Robert Johnston Niven Professor of Humane Letters at Columbia University
1991 – elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2004 – elected to the National Academy of Sciences
2007 – elected president of the Association for Psychological Sciences

George Kelly – studied under him
Julian Rotter – studied under him

Additional Theorists

Ronald Akers - http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/crimtheory/akers.htm
Edwin Sutherland - http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/crimtheory/sutherland.htm
Lev Vgotsky - http://tip.psychology.org/vygotsky.html
Gabriel Tarde - http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/crimtheory/tarde.htm