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Social cognitive theory (SCT), used in psychology, education, and communication, holds that portions of an individual's knowledge acquisition can be directly related to observing others within the context of social interactions, experiences, and outside media influences. This theory was advanced by Albert Bandura as an extension of his social learning theory. The theory states that when people observe a model performing a behavior and the consequences of that behavior, they remember the sequence of events and use this information to guide subsequent behaviors. Observing a model can also prompt the viewer to engage in behavior they already learned.In other words, people do not learn new behaviors solely by trying them and either succeeding or failing, but rather, the survival of humanity is dependent upon the replication of the actions of others. Depending on whether people are rewarded or punished for their behavior and the outcome of the behavior, the observer may choose to replicate behavior modeled. Media provides models for a vast array of people in many different environmental settings.
The conceptual roots for social cognitive theory come from Edwin B. Holt and Harold Chapman Brown's 1931 book theorizing that all animal action is based on fulfilling the psychological needs of "feeling, emotion, and desire". The most notable component of this theory is that it predicted a person cannot learn to imitate until they are imitated.
In 1941, Neal E. Miller and John Dollard presented their book with a revision of Holt's social learning and imitation theory. They argued four factors contribute to learning: drives, cues, responses, and rewards. One driver is social motivation, which includes imitativeness, the process of matching an act to an appropriate cue of where and when to perform the act. A behavior is imitated depending on whether the model receives a positive or negative response consequences.Miller and Dollard argued that if one were motivated to learn a particular behavior, then that particular behavior would be learned through clear observations. By imitating these observed actions the individual observer would solidify that learned action and would be rewarded with positive reinforcement.
The proposition of social learning was expanded upon and theorized by Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura. Bandura, along with his students and colleagues conducted a series of studies, known as the Bobo doll experiment, in 1961 and 1963 to find out why and when children display aggressive behaviors. These studies demonstrated the value of modeling for acquiring novel behaviors. These studies helped Bandura publish his seminal article and book in 1977 that expanded on the idea of how behavior is acquired, and thus built from Miller and Dollard's research.In Bandura's 1977 article, he claimed that Social Learning Theory shows a direct correlation between a person's perceived self-efficacy and behavioral change. Self-efficacy comes from four sources: "performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and physiological states".
Albert Bandura is a Canadian-American psychologist who is the David Starr Jordan Professor Emeritus of Social Science in Psychology at Stanford University.
The Bobo doll experiment is the collective name for the experiments performed by Albert Bandura during 1961 and 1963 when he studied children's behavior after they watched a human adult model act aggressively towards a Bobo doll, a doll-like toy with a rounded bottom and low center of mass that rocks back to an upright position after it has been knocked down. There are different variations of the experiment. The most notable experiment measured the children's behavior after seeing the human model get rewarded, get punished, or experience no consequence for physically abusing the Bobo doll. The experiments are empirical methods to test Bandura's social learning theory. The social learning theory claims that people learn largely by observing, imitating, and modeling. It demonstrates that people learn not only by being rewarded or punished (behaviorism), but they can also learn from watching somebody else being rewarded or punished. These experiments are important because they resulted in many more studies concerning the effects of observational learning. The new data from the studies has practical implications, for example by providing evidence of how children can be influenced by watching violent media.
In 1986, Bandura published his second book, which expanded and renamed his original theory. He called the new theory social cognitive theory. Bandura changed the name to emphasize the major role cognition plays in encoding and performing behaviors. In this book, Bandura argued that human behavior is caused by personal, behavioral, and environmental influences.
In 2001, Bandura brought SCT to mass communication in his journal article that stated the theory could be used to analyze how "symbolic communication influences human thought, affect and action". The theory shows how new behavior diffuses through society by psychosocial factors governing acquisition and adoption of the behavior.
In 2011, Bandura published a book chapter -- The Social and Policy Impact of Social Cognitive Theory—to extend SCT'S application in health promotion and urgent global issues, which provides insight into addressing global problems through a macro social lens, aiming at improving equality of individuals' lives under the umbrellas of SCT.
SCT has been applied to many areas of human functioning such as career choice and organizational behavioras well as in understanding classroom motivation, learning, and achievement.
Social Cognitive Theory originated in psychology, but based on an unofficial November 2013 Google Scholar search, only 2 percent of articles published on SCT are in the pure psychology field. About 20 percent of articles are from Education and 16 percent from Business. The majority of publications using SCT, 56 percent, come from the field of Applied Health Psychology. The majority of current research in Health Psychology focuses on testing SCT in behavioral change campaigns as opposed to expanding on the theory. Campaign topics include: increasing fruit and vegetable intake, increasing physical activity, HIV education, and breastfeeding.
Born in 1925, Bandura is still influencing the world with expansions of SCT. His recent work, published May 2011, focuses on how SCT impacts areas of both health and population in relation to climate change.He proposes that these problems could be solved through television serial dramas that show models similar to viewers performing the desired behavior. On health, Bandura writes that currently there is little incentive for doctors to write prescriptions for healthy behavior, but he believes the cost of fixing health problems start to outweigh the benefits of being healthy. Bandura argues that we are on the cusp of moving from a disease model (focusing on people with problems) to a health model (focusing on people being healthy) and SCT is the theory that should be used to further a healthy society. Specifically on Population, Bandura states that population growth is a global crisis because of its correlation with depletion and degradation of our planet's resources. Bandura argues that SCT should be used to increase birth control use, reduce gender inequality through education, and to model environmental conservation to improve the state of the planet.
Social cognitive theory is a learning theory based on the idea that people learn by observing others. These learned behaviors can be central to one's personality. While social psychologists agree that the environment one grows up in contributes to behavior, the individual person (and therefore cognition) is just as important. People learn by observing others, with the environment, behavior, and cognition acting as primary factors that influence development in a reciprocal triadic relationship. Each behavior witnessed can change a person's way of thinking (cognition). Similarly, the environment one is raised in may influence later behaviors. For example, a caregiver's mindset (also cognition) determines the environment in which their children are raised.
The core concepts of this theory are explained by Bandura through a schematization of triadic reciprocal causation,The schema shows how the reproduction of an observed behavior is influenced by the interaction of the following three determinants:
It is important to note that learning can occur without a change in behavior. According to J.E. Ormrod's general principles of social learning, while a visible change in behavior is the most common proof of learning, it is not absolutely necessary. Social learning theorists believe that because people can learn through observation alone, their learning may not necessarily be shown in their performance. These are interdependent on each other and its influence can be directly linked with individual or group psychological behavior.According to Alex Stajkovic and Fred Luthans it is critically important to recognize that the relative influences exerted by one, two, or three interacting factors on motivated behavior will vary depending on different activities, different individuals and different circumstances.
Social cognitive theory is proposed in an agentic perspective, which suggests that, instead of being just shaped by environments or inner forces, individuals are self-developing, self-regulating, self-reflecting and proactive.Specifically, human agency operates within three modes:
Human agency has four core properties:
Evolving over time, human beings are featured with advanced neural systems, which enable individuals to acquire knowledge and skills by both direct and symbolic terms.Four primary capabilities are addressed as important foundations of social cognitive theory: symbolizing capability, self-regulation capability, self-reflective capability, and vicarious capability.
Social cognitive theory revolves around the process of knowledge acquisition or learning directly correlated to the observation of models. The models can be those of an interpersonal imitation or media sources. Effective modeling teaches general rules and strategies for dealing with different situations.
To illustrate that people learn from watching others, Albert Bandura and his colleagues constructed a series of experiments using a Bobo doll. In the first experiment, children were exposed to either an aggressive or non-aggressive model of either the same sex or opposite sex as the child. There was also a control group. The aggressive models played with the Bobo doll in an aggressive manner, while the non-aggressive models played with other toys. They found that children who were exposed to the aggressive models performed more aggressive actions toward the Bobo doll afterward, and that boys were more likely to do so than girls.
Following that study, Albert Bandura tested whether the same was true for models presented through media by constructing an experiment he called Bobo Doll Behavior: A Study of Aggression. In this experiment Bandura exposed a group of children to a video featuring violent and aggressive actions. After the video he then placed the children in a room with a Bobo doll to see how they behaved with it. Through this experiment, Bandura discovered that children who had watched the violent video subjected the dolls to more aggressive and violent behavior, while children not exposed to the video did not. This experiment displays the social cognitive theory because it depicts how people reenact behaviors they see in the media. In this case, the children in this experiment reenacted the model of violence they directly learned from the video.
Observations should include:
Modeling does not limit to only live demonstrations but also verbal and written behaviour can act as indirect forms of modeling. Modeling not only allows students to learn behaviour that they should repeat but also to inhibit certain behaviours. For instance, if a teacher glares at one student who is talking out of turn, other students may suppress this behavior to avoid a similar reaction. Teachers model both material objectives and underlying curriculum of virtuous living. Teachers should also be dedicated to the building of high self-efficacy levels in their students by recognizing their accomplishments.
To learn a particular behavior, people must understand what the potential outcome is if they repeat that behavior. The observer does not expect the actual rewards or punishments incurred by the model, but anticipates similar outcomes when imitating the behavior (called outcome expectancies ), which is why modeling impacts cognition and behavior. These expectancies are heavily influenced by the environment that the observer grows up in; for example, the expected consequences for a DUI in the United States of America are a fine, with possible jail time, whereas the same charge in another country might lead to the infliction of the death penalty.
For example, in the case of a student, the instructions the teacher provides help students see what outcome a particular behaviour leads to. It is the duty of the teacher to teach a student that when a behaviour is successfully learned, the outcomes are meaningful and valuable to the students.
Social cognitive theory posits that learning most likely occurs if there is a close identification between the observer and the model and if the observer also has a good deal of self-efficacy. Self–efficacy is the extent to which an individual believes that they can master a particular skill. Self-efficacy beliefs function as an important set of proximal determinants of human motivation, affect, and action—which operate on action through motivational, cognitive, and affective intervening processes.
According to Bandura, self-efficacy is "the belief in one's capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations".Bandura and other researchers have found an individual's self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks, and challenges are approached. Individuals with high self-efficacy are more likely to believe they can master challenging problems and they can recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments. Individuals with low self-efficacy tend to be less confident and don't believe they can perform well, which leads them to avoid challenging tasks. Therefore, self-efficacy plays a central role in behavior performance. Observers who have high level of self-efficacy are more likely to adopt observational learning behaviors.
Self-efficacy can be developed or increased by:
For example, students become more effortful, active, pay attention, highly motivated and better learners when they perceive that they have mastered a particular task.It is the duty of the teacher to allow student to perceive in their efficacy by providing feedback to understand their level of proficiency. Teachers should ensure that the students have the knowledge and strategies they need to complete the tasks.
Self-efficacy has also been used to predict behavior in various health related situations such as weight loss, quitting smoking, and recovery from heart attack. In relation to exercise science, self-efficacy has produced some of the most consistent results revealing an increase in participation in exercise.
Identification allows the observer to feel a one-to-one similarity with the model, and can thus lead to a higher chance of the observer following through with the modeled action.People are more likely to follow behaviors modeled by someone with whom they can identify with. The more commonalities or emotional attachments perceived between the observer and the model, the more likely the observer learns and reenact the modeled behavior.
Social cognitive theory is often applied as a theoretical framework of studies pertained to media representation regarding race, gender, age and beyond.Social cognitive theory suggested heavily repeated images presented in mass media can be potentially processed and encoded by the viewers (Bandura, 2011). Media content analytic studies examine the substratum of media messages that viewers are exposed to, which could provide an opportunity to uncover the social values attached to these media representations. Although media contents studies cannot directly test the cognitive process, findings can offer an avenue to predict potential media effects from modeling certain contents, which provides evidence and guidelines for designing subsequent empirical work.
Social cognitive theory is pervasively employed in studies examining attitude or behavior changes triggered by the mass media. As Bandura suggested, people can learn how to perform behaviors through media modeling.SCT has been widely applied in media studies pertained to sports, health, education and beyond. For instance, Hardin and Greer in 2009 examined the gender-typing of sports within the theoretical framework of social cognitive theory, suggesting that sports media consumption and gender-role socialization significantly related with gender perception of sports in American college students.
In health communication, social cognitive theory has been applied in research related to smoking quit, HIV prevention, safe sex behaviors, and so on.For example, Martino, Collins, Kanouse, Elliott, and Berry in 2005 examined the relationship between the exposure to television’s sexual content and adolescents’ sexual behavior through the lens of social cognitive theory, confirming the significant relationship between the two variables among white and African American groups; however, no significant correlation was found between the two variables in the ethic group of Hispanics, indicating that peer norm could possibly serve as a mediator of the two examined variables.
Miller's 2005 study found that choosing the proper gender, age, and ethnicity for models ensured the success of an AIDS campaign to inner city teenagers. This occurred because participants could identify with a recognizable peer, have a greater sense of self-efficacy, and then imitate the actions to learn the proper preventions and actions.A study by Azza Ahmed in 2009 looked to see if there would be an increase in breastfeeding by mothers of preterm infants when exposed to a breastfeeding educational program guided by SCT. Sixty mothers were randomly assigned to either participate in the program or they were given routine care. The program consisted of SCT strategies that touched on all three SCT determinants: personal – showing models performing breastfeeding correctly to improve self-efficacy, behavioral –weekly check-ins for three months reinforced participants' skills, environmental – mothers were given an observational checklist to make sure they successfully completed the behavior. The author found that mothers exposed to the program showed significant improvement in their breastfeeding skills, were more likely to exclusively breastfeed, and had fewer problems then the mothers who were not exposed to the educational program.
Social cognitive theory emphasizes a large difference between an individual's ability to be morally competent and morally performing. Moral competence involves having the ability to perform a moral behavior, whereas moral performance indicates actually following one's idea of moral behavior in a specific situation.Moral competencies include:
As far as an individual's development is concerned, moral competence is the growth of cognitive-sensory processes; simply put, being aware of what is considered right and wrong. By comparison, moral performance is influenced by the possible rewards and incentives to act a certain way.For example, a person's moral competence might tell them that stealing is wrong and frowned upon by society; however, if the reward for stealing is a substantial sum, their moral performance might indicate a different line of thought. Therein lies the core of social cognitive theory.
For the most part, social cognitive theory remains the same for various cultures. Since the concepts of moral behavior did not vary much between cultures (as crimes like murder, theft, and unwarranted violence are illegal in virtually every society), there is not much room for people to have different views on what is morally right or wrong. The main reason that social cognitive theory applies to all nations is because it does not say what is moral and immoral; it simply states that we can acknowledge these two concepts. Our actions in real-life scenarios are based on whether we believe the action is moral and whether the reward for violating our morals is significant enough, and nothing else.
In series TV programming, according to social cognitive theory, the awarded behaviors of liked characters are supposed to be followed by viewers, while punished behaviors are supposed to be avoided by media consumers. However, in most cases, protagonists in TV shows are less likely to experience the long-term suffering and negative consequences caused by their risky behaviors, which could potentially undermine the punishments conveyed by the media, leading to a modeling of the risky behaviors.Nabi and Clark conducted experiments about individual’s attitudes and intentions consuming various portrayals of one-night stand sex– unsafe and risky sexual behavior, finding that individuals who had not previously experience one night stand sex, consuming media portrayals of this behavior could significantly increase their expectations of having an one night stand sex in the future, although negative outcomes were represented in TV shows.
Observational learning is learning that occurs through observing the behavior of others. It is a form of social learning which takes various forms, based on various processes. In humans, this form of learning seems to not need reinforcement to occur, but instead, requires a social model such as a parent, sibling, friend, or teacher with surroundings. Particularly in childhood, a model is someone of authority or higher status in an environment. In animals, observational learning is often based on classical conditioning, in which an instinctive behavior is elicited by observing the behavior of another, but other processes may be involved as well.
Social Learning Theory is a theory of learning and social behavior which proposes that new behaviors can be acquired by observing and imitating others. It states that learning is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context and can occur purely through observation or direct instruction, even in the absence of motor reproduction or direct reinforcement. In addition to the observation of behavior, learning also occurs through the observation of rewards and punishments, a process known as vicarious reinforcement. When a particular behavior is rewarded regularly, it will most likely persist; conversely, if a particular behavior is constantly punished, it will most likely desist. The theory expands on traditional behavioral theories, in which behavior is governed solely by reinforcements, by placing emphasis on the important roles of various internal processes in the learning individual.
Agency is the capacity of an actor to act in a given environment. The capacity to act does not at first imply a specific moral dimension to the ability to make the choice to act, and moral agency is therefore a distinct concept. In sociology, an agent is an individual engaging with the social structure. Notably, though, the primacy of social structure vs. individual capacity with regard to persons' actions is debated within sociology. This debate concerns, at least partly, the level of reflexivity an agent may possess.
The social cognitive theory of morality attempts to explain how moral thinking, in interaction with other psychosocial determinants, govern individual moral conduct. Social cognitive theory adopts an "interactionist" perspective to the development of moral behavior. Personal factors of the individual, such as individual moral thought, emotional reactions to behavior, personal moral conduct, and factors within their environment, all interact with, and affect each other. Social cognitive theory contests, in many ways, with the stage theories of moral reasoning. Social cognitive theory attempts to understand why an individual uses a lower level of moral reasoning when they are, theoretically, at a higher level. It also attempts explain the way social interactions help to form new, as well as change existing, moral standards. The influence of modeling and other such social factors are explored as functions of growth and development. Albert Bandura also believes that moral development is best understood by considering a combination of social and cognitive factors, especially those involving self-control.
In psychology, the theory of planned behavior is a theory that links one's beliefs and behavior.
Self-efficacy is an individual's belief in their innate ability to achieve goals. Albert Bandura defines it as a personal judgment of "how well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations". Expectations of self-efficacy determine whether an individual will be able to exhibit coping behavior and how long effort will be sustained in the face of obstacles. Individuals who have high self-efficacy will exert sufficient effort that, if well executed, leads to successful outcomes, whereas those with low self-efficacy are likely to cease effort early and fail. Psychologists have studied self-efficacy from several perspectives, noting various paths in the development of self-efficacy; the dynamics of self-efficacy, and lack thereof, in many different settings; interactions between self-efficacy and self-concept; and habits of attribution that contribute to, or detract from, self-efficacy. Kathy Kolbe adds, "Belief in innate abilities means valuing one's particular set of conative strengths. It also involves determination and perseverance to overcome obstacles that would interfere with utilizing those innate abilities to achieve goals."
Self-regulation theory (SRT) is a system of conscious personal management that involves the process of guiding one's own thoughts, behaviors, and feelings to reach goals. Self-regulation consists of several stages, and individuals must function as contributors to their own motivation, behavior, and development within a network of reciprocally interacting influences.
Reciprocal determinism is the theory set forth by psychologist Albert Bandura which states that a person's behavior both influences and is influenced by personal factors and the social environment. Bandura accepts the possibility that an individual's behavior may be conditioned through the use of consequences. At the same time he asserts that a person's behavior can impact the environment. These skill sets result in an under- or overcompensated ego that, for all creative purposes, is too strong or too weak to focus on pure outcome. This is important because Bandura was able to prove the strong correlation between this with experiments.
Social learning is learning that takes place at a wider scale than individual or group learning, up to a societal scale, through social interaction between peers. It may or may not lead to a change in attitudes and behaviour.
Behavioural change theories are attempts to explain why behaviours change. These theories cite environmental, personal, and behavioural characteristics as the major factors in behavioural determination. In recent years, there has been increased interest in the application of these theories in the areas of health, education, criminology, energy and international development with the hope that understanding behavioural change will improve the services offered in these areas. Some scholars have recently introduced a distinction between models of behavior and theories of change. Whereas models of behavior are more diagnostic and geared towards understanding the psychological factors that explain or predict a specific behavior, theories of change are more process-oriented and generally aimed at changing a given behavior. Thus, from this perspective, understanding and changing behavior are two separate but complementary lines of scientific investigation.
Moral disengagement is a term from social psychology for the process of convincing the self that ethical standards do not apply to oneself in a particular context. This is done by separating moral reactions from inhumane conduct and disabling the mechanism of self-condemnation. Thus, moral disengagement involves a process of cognitive re-construing or re-framing of destructive behavior as being morally acceptable without changing the behavior or the moral standards. In social cognitive theory of morality, self-regulatory mechanisms embedded in moral standards and self-sanctions translate moral reasoning into actions, and, as a result, moral agency is exerted. Thus, the moral self is situated in a broader, socio-cognitive self-theory consisting of self-organizing, proactive, self-reflective, and self-regulative mechanisms. Three major sub-functions are operating in this self-regulatory system in which moral agency is grounded. The first sub-function is self-monitoring of one's conduct, which is the initial step of taking control over it. "Action gives rise to self-reactions through a judgmental function in which conduct is evaluated against internal standards and situational circumstances". Thus, moral judgments evoke self-reactive influence. The self-reactive and judgmental mechanisms constitute the second and third sub-function.
Fear appeal is a term used in psychology, sociology and marketing. It generally describes a strategy for motivating people to take a particular action, endorse a particular policy, or buy a particular product, by arousing fear. A well-known example in television advertising was a commercial employing the musical jingle: "Never pick up a stranger, pick up Prestone anti-freeze." This was accompanied by images of shadowy strangers (hitchhikers) who would presumably do one harm if picked up. The commercial's main appeal was not to the positive features of Prestone anti-freeze, but to the fear of what a "strange" brand might do.
Some of the research that is conducted in the field of psychology is more "fundamental" than the research conducted in the applied psychological disciplines, and does not necessarily have a direct application. The subdisciplines within psychology that can be thought to reflect a basic-science orientation include biological psychology, cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, and so on. Research in these subdisciplines is characterized by methodological rigor. The concern of psychology as a basic science is in understanding the laws and processes that underlie behavior, cognition, and emotion. Psychology as a basic science provides a foundation for applied psychology. Applied psychology, by contrast, involves the application of psychological principles and theories yielded up by the basic psychological sciences; these applications are aimed at overcoming problems or promoting well-being in areas such as mental and physical health and education.
Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control is a book on scientific psychology written by Albert Bandura. The book was originally published in the United States in 1997. Translations have been published in Chinese, French, Italian, and Korean.
Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory is a landmark work in psychology published in 1986 by Albert Bandura. The book expands Bandura's initial social learning theory into a comprehensive theory of human motivation and action, analyzing the role of cognitive, vicarious, self-regulatory, and self-reflective processes in psychosocial functioning. Bandura first advanced his thesis of reciprocal determinism in Social Foundations of Thought and Action.
In psychology, agents are goal-directed entities that are able to monitor their environment to select and perform efficient means-ends actions that are available in a given situation to achieve an intended goal. Agency, therefore, implies the ability to perceive and to change the environment of the agent, but crucially, it also entails intentionality to represent the goal-state in the future, equifinal variability to be able to achieve the intended goal-state with different actions in different contexts, and rationality of actions in relation to their goal to produce the most efficient action available. Cognitive scientists and psychologists thoroughly investigated agency attribution in humans and non-human animals, since social cognitive mechanisms as communication, social learning, imitation or theory of mind presupposes the ability to identify agents and differentiate them from inanimate objects. This ability has also assumed to have a major effect on inferential and predictive processes of the observers of agents, because agentive entities are expected to perform autonomous behavior based on their current and previous knowledge and intentions, while inanimate objects are supposed to react to external physical forces.
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