Research Paper: Cognitive Social Learning Theory

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Cognitive Social Learning Theory

Social learning theories came into sight along with behavior and learning tradition. These theories were well-demonstrated by three renowned psychologists i.e. Albert Bandura, Julian Rotter and Walter Mischel. However, the three great theorists have not followed the reactive mechanical model of behavior introduced by Skinner who has viewed the individual/person as an agent or instigator of experience. Instead, they have reestablished internal cognitive variables including a person's "subjective interpretation of the environment, into the stimulus-response formula (S-R)" (Engler, 2009).

Albert Bandura was the one who developed social cognitive theory as "a versatile model of psychosocial functioning that highlights the human capacity for self-regulation" (Lent & Brown, 1996). It was a framework for the analysis of human stimulus, thinking, and act and its relation to learning and training (Gardner & Yun, 2010). Social learning theories have become a sign of the vigilant scientific procedures and methodology that portray the approach of the behaviorist. From very uncomplicated and effortless laboratory situations, the social learning theories have moved to more complicated conditions. Instead of using animal subjects, the use of human has increased. For the same reason, the conditions in the laboratory have been made more identical to the everyday life (Engler, 2009). Social cognitive theory mainly focuses on a vibrant interactive process among factors related to environment, behavior and personality in order to depict human functioning (Burney, 2008).

In this paper, the contributions of Julian Rotter and Walter Mischel to the social learning theory have been highlighted.

Julian B. Rotter -- Biography

Julian Rotter, the American psychologist, is considered as one of the most distinguished psychologists of the twentieth century. He is famous for his theories concerning social learning and "Locus of Control" (Foran, 2012).

The renowned American psychologist was born on October 22, 1916 in Brooklyn, New York. He developed a fondness for fiction during his youth. Later in high school, he became fond of the works of Freud and Adler. The works of the mentioned great psychologists impressed him so much that he decided to have a career in psychology himself. For the same reason, he took psychology as an elective subject during his undergraduate years (Carducci, 2009).

Though it was difficult to pursue a career in psychology due to the Great Depression, Rotter remained determined to become an influential social psychologist (inspired by Solomon Ash, one of his teachers). Rotter also got the golden opportunities of meeting Alfred Adler and attending his passionate lectures. Rotter stated Adler as a strong influence on his thinking. According to Rotter, he was and continued to be impressed by Adler's insights into human nature (Carducci, 2009).

In 1937, Rotter completed his graduation from Brooklyn College. He then chose University of Iowa to pursue his graduate study in psychology. Later, Rotter received his MA in 1938 and decided to go to Worecester State Hospital in Massachusetts. In 1941, he received his doctorate at Indiana University. Then he joined USA Army as a psychologist/advisor during the Second World War. Afterwards, he joined Ohio State University where he served as a teacher and the chairman of the clinical psychology program. However, he moved to the Univeristy of Connecticut in 1963 and remained for his career (Carducci, 2009).

Rotter's exceptional career can be significantly characterized by his stress on guiding and training clinical psychologists to do research and serve as practicing clinicians at the same time. His life as a psychologist has been a very busy one as he actively participated as an important member in a number of professional associations. He served as the President of the Eastern Psychological Association as well as the faculty President at American Psychological Association. In 1988, he was awarded the APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award due to his exceptional contributions throughout his lifetime (Carducci, 2009).

Walter Mischel -- Biography

Walter Mischel, the well-known American psychologist, was born in Vienna on February 22, 1930 (Carducci, 2009) and was the youngest son of his parents. He is well-renowned for his revolutionary study on postponed gratification known as "the marshmallow test."

His family left the city of his birth and moved to United States of America in 1938 when Austria was invaded by the Nazis. After wandering to different cities for two years, Mischel's family finally settled in Brooklyn. When Mischel completed his secondary school, he was supposed to go to the college on a scholarship. However, his father's poor health made it impossible for him to attend college and the young lad could not start college as he had to start earning money for his family (Carducci, 2009).

He had to do various unusual jobs in order to do so. He worked as a stock boy, an elevator operator and also served in a garment factory. He used to attend New York University as he pursued his concern in art and psychology. Mischel, however, was not very much interested in the idea of learning animals as a part of psychology. His inspiration to learn and understand people was fueled by the Freudian thought and psychoanalysis (Carducci, 2009).

After completing his graduation in 1951, Mischel went to the City College of New York in order to pursue clinical psychology as his career. He entered there to get his MA and received it in 1953. At the same time, he started to work as a social worker in the Lower East Side of New York. While working closely with troubled, elderly and poor people, Mischel drew up the conclusion that the Freudian writings and his projective tests are not efficient and adequate to analyze and understand the real-life problems of the deprived and dilapidated human beings. This realization inspired Mischel to search for a more logical and practical approach to psychology. This research finally paved his way to Ohio State University where he met Julian Rotter and became his student (Carducci, 2009).

Mischel completed his Ph.D. At Ohio University in 1956. From 1956-1958, he served as a professor at the University of Colorado. For the next four years, he taught at the Harvard University and he spent the next ten years teaching at the Stanford University. He then pursued the professorship at Columbia University in 1983. His exceptional contributions led him to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991) and the National Academy of Sciences (2004) (Carducci, 2009).

The outstanding psychologist also served as editor of the Psychological Review (2000 -- 03). He also took the presidency of the Association for Psychological Science (2007 -- 08). For his extraordinary and innovative works on delayed gratification, self-control, and willpower, Mischel won the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology in 2011 (Carducci, 2009).

Rotter's Social Learning Theory

The Social Learning Theory represented by Julian Rotter is in fact an amalgamation of learning and personality theories. He suggests that individuals think about the possible consequences of their actions in certain circumstances and act accordingly following their beliefs. Four major variables make up Rotter's Social Learning Theory:

1. Behavior potential points out the possibility that a person will take action in a definite manner as compared to other behaviors.

2. Expectancy refers to the person's belief pertaining to the probability that a particular response will be given by him/her as a result of a definite behavior.

3. Reinforcement value suggests how much importance the person gives to a particular result relative to other possible results.

4. The psychological situation involves the importance of the background of behavior. The manner by which a certain situation is handled by the person can have an effect on both reinforcement value and expectancy. The formula that is used to symbolize this relationship is BP=E & RV. Here BP stands for behavior potential, E stands for expectancy of reinforcement and R.V. stands for the reinforcement value of the predictable reinforcement (Lefcourt, 1982).

Rotter's views regarding social learning emphasize on the relationship of people with their environment. According to him, personality is unpredictable in the face of individual experiences that have the power to change a person's observations all through his/her life span (Foran, 2012). Rotter believes that "our ability to explain and predict behavior depends on knowing an individual's reinforcement history as well as his or her experiences, subjective values and perceptions of control" (Nevid, 2009). Therefore, Rotter's social learning theory has a special focus on "the general (trait) and the specific (situational) determinants of action, with both being the product of learning experiences" (Weiner, 1980). Rotter especially "emphasized expectations of reward and perceived values of rewards as the basis for modeling one's behavior on that of others" (Hogben & Dyrne, 1998).

Mischel's Social Learning Theory

Walter Mischel has given noteworthy contributions for developing cognitive constructs in the Social Learning Theory. Mischel's positive program for the study of personality variables approves an extensive variety of SLT concepts including aptitudes, encoding approaches, expectancies, motivations, and self-regulatory systems. Additionally, Mischel's work emphasizes on observational wisdom and modeling and also focuses on the relationship between an individual and situation.

He is especially renowned for his cognitive social… [END OF PREVIEW]

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