Social learning theory

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Social learning theory
Main principle: We learn through observation and imitation
The three factors of social learning theory (social cognitive theory)
Environment: We learn by observing others behavior and the consequences of these behaviors. We are more likely to imitate a behavior that has been rewarded than one that has been punished (vicarious learning)
Cognitive: Learning is modified by cognitive processes, such as motivation, attention, retention
Self efficacy/Behavioral: A belief on how effective we are at performing a behavior. We are more likely to do something that we have good confidence in doing.
Supporting/challenging studies:

Eron & Huesmann (1986): University of Michigan psychologists Leonard Eron and Rowell Huesmann followed the viewing habits of a group of children from 1960 to 1982. They found that watching violence on television is the single factor most closely associated with aggressive behaviour-more than poverty, race, or parental behaviour.

In 1960, Eron embarked on a landmark longitudinal study of over 800 eight-year-olds. He found that children who watched many hours of violent television tended to be more aggressive in the playground and the classroom.

Eron and Huesmann checked back with these students 11 and 22 years later. They found that the aggressive eight-year-olds grew up to become even more aggressive 19- and 30-year-olds, with greater troubles-including domestic violence and more traffic tickets-than their less aggressive counterparts who did not watch as much television. And the researchers found that even if a child is not aggressive at the age of eight, but watches substantial amounts of violent programming, he will be more aggressive at 19 than his peers who didn't watch violent TV. (Taken from

Bandura (1961): Children who watched a model being aggressive to a bobo doll exercised more aggressive behavior toward the bobo doll than children who did not observe the model.
Becker (1993-1995): When television was introduced to Fiji, eating disorders increased.
Kimball and Zimbrack (1995): Aggression in children did not increase after the introduction of television on the island of S:t Helena.

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