Social Learning In A Nutshell

What is social learning theory?

Social learning theories are an extension of behaviorism. They use an empirical approach but emphasize social influence and environmental adaptation. Think of them as behaviorism with a context.

Major Approaches

Dollar & Miller and a good example of cross-discipline research. Both were professors at Yale but in different departments. They came together on a simple premise: explain Freudian theory in behavioral terms using experimental methods. They explain internal conflict through external processes: drive, cue, response and reward.

Bandura viewed learning as an imitative process. He proposed that people need reinforcement (in the Skinner sense of the word) to exhibit a response but that reinforcement is not necessary for learning to occur. Learning is the interaction of the person, behavior and environment. It occurs naturally by observation of others.

Rotter expands behaviorism by incorporating expectations. He maintained that behavior is a function of two things: the likelihood of getting a reward and the size of it. People might keep a low paying job because the income is steady (likely), even though the reward in low. On the other hand, people engaged in behavior where the potential reward is huge but the chances are small (e.g., playing the lottery).

Major Theorists
     Dollard, John & Miller, Neal
     Rotter, Julian
     Bandura, Albert

 Additional Information
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