Saturday, July 19, 2008

Theoretical Framework - Social Learning Theory

The belief one has in his own abilities, Albert Bandura (1994) refers to as self-efficacy. This belief, Bandura (1994) revealed, enhances an individual’s ability to accomplish desired goals, as well as his personal well being. According to Crain (2005), the theory of self-efficacy was created from Bandura’s social learning theory which stated that one acquires information through observation. Bandura asserted that observational learning, in social settings, allows for an individual to learn more rapidly. Bandura concluded that social learning can occur in four modes; no-trial, cognitive, vicarious reinforcement, and symbolic. Each of these modes involves an individual observing from another.

Social Learning Theory

Social learning involves four components; attentional, retention, motor reproduction, and motivational processes (Crain, 2005). Attentional, according to Bandura (1977) is an individual’s attention to a model. Accurate perception of a behavior allows for it to be easily recreated. Modeling can vary in its effectiveness. That is, a model which is considered to be highly influential will have a greater affect on those whom he or she is modeling towards.

The retention process is one’s ability to recall a modeled behavior when the model is no longer present (Bandura, 1977). The observer then, must retain the behaviors of the model in symbolic form, and imitate those behaviors at a later time. In addition to this, the observer must also rehearse the models actions, be it mentally or physically. Doing so, allows the observer to be less likely to forget the modeled behavior.

The third process involved in modeling is motor reproduction. Motor reproduction is essentially one’s ability to perform a modeled activity. Bandura (1977) stated, “learners who possess the constituent elements can easily integrate them to produce the new patterns; but if some of these response components are lacking, behavioral reproduction will be faulty” (p. 28). Bandura expanded on this idea asserting that skills are not developed through trial-and-error alone. That is, an individual who fumbles through an activity, despite observing a respected model, will not achieve the desired outcome if he or she is incapable of performing the activity to begin with.

Finally, the motivational process is that which encourages an individual to perform a modeled activity. An individual, Bandura (1977) posited, is “more likely to adopt modeled behavior if it results in outcomes they value than if it has unrewarding or punishing effects” (p. 28). In referencing Bandura, Crane (2005) placed this into perspective through stating “if a boy sees his neighbor admired for swearing, the boy is likely to imitate him. If he sees the neighbor punished, he is less likely to do so” (p. 201). Thus, if the risk outweighs the reward, a modeled behavior may be ignored. In addition to this, motivation is best provided prior to the individual performing the modeled act rather than “waiting until they happen to imitate a model” (Bandura, 1977, p. 37). That is to say, individuals will perform at a higher level if they recognize the reward prior to committing to the action. Furthermore, if individuals can relate to the model, they are more likely to act upon the modeled behavior.

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