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Strengths of the Social Learning Theory

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katie brown

on 26 September 2013

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Transcript of Strengths of the Social Learning Theory

The Social Learning Theory
Strengths of the Social Learning Theory
Limitations of the Social Learning Theory
Badura's experiment
The social Learning Theory has many strengths in evaluation. Human behaviour is learnt in different ways from other animals' behaviour, due to the fact that Humans have the ability to store what they have seen and humans are also able to think ahead as to when to copy a behaviour.
One of its key strengths is the fact that Bandura verified the first concept. His findings were that children do copy aggression, this was confirmed in his case study of 1961. This study revolved around vicarious reinforcement as he would have a child watch an adult bash and play aggressively with the Bobo inflatable doll. Afterwards the child would also repeat the same thing he/she had been shown as long as the role model was not punished for his/her action. The experiment is the most rigorous method in psychology and the best by which to establish cause and effect relationships.
Learning by trial and error, as in operant conditioning, can be dangerous for survival. Bandura wrote that 'most people would never survive their formative years because mistakes often result in fatal consequences'. The Social Learning Theory appears to be less deterministic and reductionist than the behavioursit approach. Bandura tended to talk more about an interaction between behaviour and the environment; he called this 'reciprocal determinism': 'behaviour partly creates the environment and the resultant environment, in turn influences the behaviour.'
The Social Learning Theory also carrys many limitations, One of these weaknesses is that it cannot explain why some children watch these violent T.V shows and play these games yet they never copy it. This is one weakness as many people today are exposed to all sorts of violence yet there isn’t a problem of mass terrorism everywhere around the globe each day. The Social Learning Theory is not very good at explaining the learning of abstract ideas, such as the moral principles of justice and fairness; these are hard to learn simply by observing another's behaviour and copying it.
Another problem is that there are some people or children who are naturally aggressive even if they play violent games or watch gruesome T.V shows. This clearly defies the concepts of Social Learning Theory as it states that violence or any other behavior can only be learnt through either experience or watching another person experience it. Cumberbatch noted experimental weaknesses that encouraged the children to be aggressive towards the 'Bobo doll'
The demand characteristics of the experiment mad it clear to the children of what was expected, and the 'Bobo doll' was a temptation to be hit as it always bounced back up therefore only continuous aggresive behaviour took place for the three minutes of filming. The novelty of the 'Bobo doll' would increase agression scores.
Although there maybe some reference towards the cognitive processes in the Social Learning Theory, however the theory does not specify how the observed behaviour is stored or reproduced. the Cognitive approach tends to concentrate more on explaining the internal processes.
The experiments that were performed by Bandura took place in a laboratory environment and were therefore artificial, the participants would have been aware it was an experiment.They have low ecological validity as well as other weaknesses that apply to the experimental method generally. the Social Learning Theory is known to still place most of its emphasis on the external behaviour, therefore ignoring the subjective experience.
'Bobo' doll experiment
The bobo doll experiment was conducted in the 1960's by a psychologist called Bandura. He showed a video to young children aged 3-6, to both boys and girls of other children around the same age acting aggressive towards the 'Bobo doll'.
The three endings to the video;
Adult in the film commented positively on the aggressive behavior
Adult commented negatively on the behavior
Adult made no comment
Smith and Lloyd
The experiment was carried out by using 32 mothers.
The mothers were then filmed playing with 6 month old babies.
The babies received twos suited to their gender and natural toys.
Once they had watched the video of they were then let into a room with a 'Bobo doll'. Bandura then studied how the children behaved towards the Doll. He found that boys tended to show a lot more aggression towards the doll, compared to the girls. the girls appeared more influenced with the negative comments which led Bandura to believe that children learned from models in their environment.

So we may pick up some things from T.V shows and video games but may never actually think about it until something is triggered. Lastly the third concept states that the persons’ behaviour is not changed even if something new is learnt. This may be a common trait between all tragedies that happen in school as most people that commit a crime still act the same way the night before. therefore, in terms of child development, the Social Learning Theory is good at explaining specific imitations of behaviour for example: when a little girl copies her mother applying make-up to her face.

Another strength of the Social Learning Theory was that many acts of aggression or tragedies (e.g.school shootings, murders, homicide, suicide etc...) were linked to violent television shows (Most Shocking, CSI NY etc…) and video games (e.g. Call of Duty, GrandTheft Auto, Ninja Gaiden Sigma and Demon Souls etc…). This links back to all three concepts of the theory, as the first concept states that it is learnt from watching others, in other words violent acts can be learnt from these video games and T.V shows. The second concept states that its an internal mental state, in other words it’s at the back of our mind but we never really consciously think about it.
About the Social Learning Theory
The social learning theory is to be said as observing a model and then having the motivation to repeat (copy) there behaviour. It is based on 4 conditions that Bandura said were essential for effective modelling to occur
-attention
-retention
-motor reproduction
-motivation

The results of the experiment shown that Babies precieved to be boys were given hammers. where as babies preciveed to be girls were given dolls. Mothers play a role in this as they give the babies toys, they think will benefit them more. For example giving gilrs dolls and play kitchen toys. Where boys are given more violent toys like guns. This was due to the sex they were perceived as being.
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