Thursday, September 13, 2012

Social Learning Theory modeling process

There is no psychology class here, so I thought I'd introduce a concept I learned about last year. It is called social learning theory. This theory explains how norms are learned in society. Norms are a set of rules based on socially or culturally shared beliefs of how an individual ought to behave. Social protocols, like manners would count. There is a basic modeling process that shows you the steps through which information can be learned. First, one must pay attention to the model of a norm. Take manners, for example. You'll watch your mother and father say "please" and "thank you". You must also retain the information provided, so you'll remember that your parents said "please" and "thank you" under a set of given circumstances. You must have the physical capability to reproduce the model. It would be easy to say those things under those same circumstances, but you wouldn't be able to replicate, say, a flip you saw in the gymnastics competition at the Olympics. You would also have to be motivated to do it. Motivation can be provided in various forms. You could find the model appealing. You could identify with the model. You could be rewarded when you reproduce the model or be punished when you don't. You could simply be exposed to the model consistently, and, thus, you have "learned" a norm.
Albert Bandura exemplifies this modeling process of social learning theory through his "Bobo the Clown" experiment. He divided a group of children into two groups: the control group and the experiment group. The control group was led into a room filled with toys, one of which was a "Bobo the Clown" doll and a mallet. The experiment group was first made to sit down and watch a film of an adult doing violent acts on the doll like throwing it, punching it, and hitting it with the mallet. Then, they were sent into a similar room. Both rooms were observed for the same time interval, and results showed that the experiment group was more likely to do violent acts to the doll. By following the modeling process, Bandura showed that it was one way to teach norms to society. 


Victoria Arroyave (12th)

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